After earning only 6 points in an 8 game stretch at the end of the season’s first half, the Union did not look much like a team that was destined for any postseason magic. In fact, they looked so disappointing, it cost manager John Hackworth his job on June 10th. Hackworth, who was 23-30-20 in his time in charge in Philadelphia, had seemed to have gone stale on ownership and some of the players and the team’s performance had shown nothing more, tallying just 15 points in 16 regular season games.
Enter Jim Curtin, the Oreland, PA native and Villanova grad, who in a short time seems to have turned at least the mindset, and maybe the direction of the Union’s season around. At his introductory press conference Curtin mentioned the fact that he grew up in the area and wanted everyone to know he’s a Philly guy. He’s a fan too, just like us. “It’s not an easy job, but it’s one I like, and one I don’t want to lose”. Curtin is currently the interim manager, meaning the Union are still interviewing candidates for the permanent job. If the team continues its recent trend, Curtin should be seriously considered for the position. “I’m gonna do my best to keep winning, that’s kinda the one thing I can control right now is do my talking by what they do on the field”. Recently the MLS season has slowed down due to losing a lot of players to the World Cup in Brazil.
This is the time during the season that MLS teams participate in the US Open Cup, a tournament involving all levels of United States soccer teams including MLS and lower level affiliates and independent clubs. The Union are one of those participants, and they have used this time to get themselves together. “Locker room is good, guys are happy, there’s an energy at practice that’s competing, but competing the right way”, said Curtin when asked about the change in the team. Since Curtin took over on June 11th, the team is 5-1 including Open Cup games and 2 MLS contests. While the Open Cup games are against lesser competition, the team has played strong. As of right now the Union sit 8th in the Eastern Conference, but they are just 2 points out of a playoff spot and just 3 points out of 4th in the East. Two teams that they are chasing, are two of their next 3 opponents (New York, Columbus) leaving them an immediate chance to gain some ground. Another positive for the Union is that they play 10 of their final 17 matches at home, where they have 7 points in 7 games this season. While it still may be a long shot, it would be really good to see a postseason match for the Union and to continue this upward trend into next season. Keeping Jim Curtin on would be a good start.