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New Coach Soehn Had Input in Adu Trade

Tom Soehn
Tom Soehn takes over for Peter Nowak as D.C. United's new coach. (Lois Raimondo - The Washington Post)

Nowak was Bradley's star midfielder with the Chicago Fire from 1998 to 2002, and they had remained close as coaching rivals in MLS.

Nowak's contract with United was to expire this month, and he and Payne had discussed an extension. "It wasn't about the money," said a source close to both the team and coach.

Nowak was never enamored of Washington, though. He lives in Naples, Fla., with his wife and young child and, even in the middle of the season, would return there whenever possible. With the national team program, he will be able to live at home and join Bradley when needed.

Payne said he was initially surprised that Nowak decided to leave, "but as I think about it and understand some of the issues for him, particularly having to do with his family and the time he is away from them, I understand his decision, and accept his decision and respect his decision."

Soehn, 40, joined Nowak's staff in 2004 and quickly emerged as one of MLS's most respected assistants. He had interviewed for head coaching jobs with Real Salt Lake, Colorado, Toronto, Dallas and Chivas USA.

Soehn does not plan drastic changes in the way the team plays, saying: "You are still going to see the same style. One of the things we're so proud of is the way we possess the ball and we make the game beautiful. That's going to continue."

However, he does see himself as a different coach than Nowak, whose uncompromising approach turned off some players.

"Peter's and my style are very different, and that's why I think we complemented each other so much," he said. "We used to get into it as players and get into it as coaches, but ultimately we knew what the final goal is; we needed to do what was best for the team and we supported each other in that way."

United midfielder Ben Olsen supported the decision to hire Soehn, saying, "It was a no-brainer who should fill that role." Asked to contrast the Polish-born Nowak and the Chicago-bred Soehn, he added: "Their personalities are different, but most of all, Tommy's an American soccer player and he might understand the American player a little more."

MLS Notes: Mark Simpson, on Nowak's staff since 2004, will become Soehn's top assistant. . . . Kasper rated Argentine midfielder Matias Donnet's chances of re-signing with the team at "50-50." . . .

New Kansas City coach Curt Onalfo has hired George Mason University assistants Kris Kelderman and David Tenney for his staff.

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