Fans' View

Fans’ View: Curtin’s call impresses

Photo: Earl Gardner

On Saturday, I had the privilege of participating in a rare occurrence in professional sports.

Along with 50 other members of the Sons of Ben, I got the chance to hang out with Jim Curtin.

I was sitting at the Iron Abbey waiting for the “Curtin Call” event to begin when I noticed he was standing in line to check in. Yes, standing, in line — with no entourage, no Union handlers — just standing in line. Again, where else in American pro sports does this happen?

I looked around the room and I saw some familiar faces. But for the most part, I saw people who are as passionate as I am about our team.

And I felt at home. I could walk up to anyone, introduce myself, and know that we would have a great conversation. That’s what this team has done for us, created a network of friends who maybe just haven’t yet met.

A chat among friends

We are very lucky fans. Not only do we have players who are incredibly gracious, retweet our photos, and are always willing to chat, we also have a coach who will sit down, and as much as he can, talk straight with us.

Curtin made it clear from the beginning of the event that that was what this was — a chat among friends — and what was said in the room was to stay in the room. I respect that.

I always enjoy listening to the KYW Philly Soccer Show podcast when Curtin is on. Eli and Greg ask tough questions and Jim doesn’t shirk. It was no different at the Iron Abbey on Saturday. Yes, the obvious questions were asked — some serious and some silly — but Curtin answered every question thoughtfully.

If you’re wondering what we talked about, well, like I said, Curtin made it clear that was to stay in the room.

But, I can tell you some of the topics that were brought up for discussion. We discussed the importance of a training facility, New York Red Bulls firing Mike Petke, Mo Edu, and our draft signings. I, being an enthusiastic MacMath fan, asked about him and that situation. Curtin was as candid as he could be and I was left a little more comforted with why Zac is in Colorado.

We also discussed wardrobe. Yes, Jim is aware that not everybody agrees with his fashion choices, but frankly, he doesn’t care. So, yes, you will see the blue suit again — and the blue pants, which are slightly different from the blue suit. He also agreed that he needs a new headshot for when the starting lineup is displayed on PPL Park’s video board.

He has our back

I was asked later by a friend, “Do you feel better about the team going forward after this event?”

After pondering, this is what I concluded: I realize we’re never going to get Jozy, Stevie G., or Michael Bradley. I’m OK with that. I feel that there’s a plan — even if we sometimes wonder about the details. I also feel that there’s going to be more stability this year in regards to players and their positions, and that’s a good thing. I like that we have a group of players that want hardware as much as we do.

I honestly don’t know how high we’ll end up in the standings, but I think I’m OK with that because win, lose or draw, this is my team and I will support them, come hell or high water.

Curtin is a passionate person and he wears his heart on his sleeve. For as much as each one of us loves this team, I can see that he is right there with us.

He has our back.

At the end of the event, Curtin said, “The crest is two-and-a-half inches and none of us is bigger than that.”

That’s what I love about the Union. All of us — players, coaches, fans — are in this together and it takes everyone of us to create this family.

Is it March yet?


  1. Thanks for write up.
    I rail and rail about a bunch of things, particularly regarding why a franchise in this enormous market (with untold deposits of wealth) sits by as other clubs sign big name players but ultimately, at this point stability is the most important ingredient missing in Chester.
    Continuity. I talk all the time about: Vision. Philosophy. Plan. Maybe they/we’ve gotten it right with RM, JC, CA leading the brigade because continuity has to be the first head cornerstone as Bob Marley liked to sing.
    If this club, Our Union, is able to openly reduce the wounds of its fractured hip- all self inflicted stupor binge drinking fall type fracture—– or can just stop bouncing clouds like an electron for 5 seconds, then maybe we can begin to think big in the not too distant future.
    Here’s hoping.

    • Well said Joel. I rail and rant as well and have even regretfully gone so far as to say I’d support the Cosmos or NYCFC(NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN by the way). What still sticks in my craw and I’ve heard all the rationale,reasons and excuses, is how our Union is not going to compete for top talent. It just doesn’t sit well and I’ve tried my best to go along with it. But we are in one of the elite sports markets in the country with,IMO,the top fan base. So when someone says we’re not competing with our nearest rivals on every level really goes against the grain. The only thing Philly does not need or want compared to NY is 2-3 teams for every sport. Philly is not NY and will never be, but NY is not Philly either. Philly takes a back seat to no one so being sold on the idea that our long awaited MLS franchise can’t be mentioned in talks for elite talent rubs me the wrong way on so many levels. To me telling Philadelphians that they can’t do something is not an endearing quality. If Curtin and other Philly area Union leadership don’t get it then they’ve been away too long. I know big money and high priced athletes don’t guarantee winning titles and other hardware but it at least keeps you in the conversation. To me it’s where this top market and fan base deserves to be.

      • Dan C (formerly of 103) says:

        Here is the deal. Sugarman is a real estate magnate. The whole reason the Union exist was for Rendell and his buddies to add value to a tract of land that was undervalued. THe U wouldn’t even exist if they didn’t build Harrah’s in Chester. Market crashes and Sugarman is stuck with this team. He doesn’t have the personal assets to compete for the Altidores and Giovincos of the world. The reason this franchise values Allocation money so much is because it reduces the amount of money the organization has to pony up when MLS comes around for their cash call. Sad but true, we are not a true football club, we are an asset that may or may not increase in value for someone’s portflio…

      • kingkowboys says:

        The silver lining to this is that if we can money ball our way into success on the field there is an opportunity for someone else to buy up the club if the price is right. With no personal attachment it will come down to dollars.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        Agreed. If Sug and the boys can make their money back (maybe plus some too) this club could be a very attractive purchase to someone in the (hopefully near) future.

      • We know Dan C. it’s been laid out for us often enough to get us to accept our fate. We also know that Philadelphia was going to have an MLS franchise eventually without the Union. We just got what we got when we got it. It does not however mean that things have to remain that way,not the way MLS is trending. It’s up to Sugarman and group to change strategy and bring on stronger finacial backing or partnerships if we are even going to be relevant moving forward. I don’t see how (with 2 teams in NY for one) the Union can continue to entertain the idea of being run like a 2nd rate outpost. If they do continue with this strategy they risk losing the most viable fan base support in the league. I don’t see the Union lasting long if that’s the case. I do see them being replaced by another MLS franchise mainly because of this top market and fan base.

      • James Lockerbie says:

        Why? Why is it up to Sugarman to bring in new investors? The Fans “sob” got the attention of mls to bring Sugarman/Sak, MLS to Phillie. Why can’t we the fans identify new investors to persuade them to contact Nick/Jay to offer $$$ and their talents to expand the ownership group.

        I was happy to hear our newest investor has experience/contacts in the public transportation system perhaps he will be able to expand the options available to fans to get to ppl park.

        We should make it our new mission to help the team find potential investors from all walks of life that enjoy the beautiful game of soccer.
        Take LAFC for example how many people were on that stage during the announcement ceremony?

      • Take ownership. I like it.

      • Dan with all due respect Jay Sugarman is not a real estate magnate. iStar Financial the company Mr. Sugarman is CEO of isa publicly traded company and known as a REIT or Real Estate Investment Trust. Structured for long term capitalization. Their portfolio consists primarily of customized lending products the majority of which are in the senior living market sector. The “Crash” had little to no affect on iStar or his personal assets. The U would not exsist if not for the tax payers of Delaware County putting up the bulk of the cash to finance the stadium.

  2. Great write-up, Staci. Glad to hear that Curtin felt comfortable enough to speak openly and honestly in this private format. The contrast between this event and NYRB’s town hall the night before is huge.

    As MLS gets bigger as a league, I’m always hoping that these types of events continue. The players and coaches are very accessible to us as a fan base and I don’t think that we appreciate that aspect enough, especially when you compare it to other US sports.

    BTW, can you divulge what the two bottles are on the table. It kinda looks like Yards IPA, but who knows.

  3. Thanks for sharing Staci! Totally agree with the face that Curtin puts on the club. Agree with comments above though, that I will always keep some hope that one day we will be in a position to spend.
    Also, it must be noted that Curtin is definitely a better dresser than Petke…so there’s that.

  4. I know everything is wink wink and hush hush but did he mention the words “DP” or “Striker” in passing at any point?

  5. James Lockerbie says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the evening. I was very disappointed that I was unable to attend the event.

  6. James Lockerbie says:


    I was not suggesting the fans to take ownership, however that’s not a bad idea. What, I was trying to suggest was adding additionanl owners. Here is one that might work,maybe Sylvester Gardenzio Stallone, he has a past in philly went to high school at Lincoln high. He has a statue “Rocky” at the Museum of Arts. Perhaps if he invested enough into the club, we could put up a statue of him as the goal keeper from “Victory” that is after we place the Le toux statue out front of ppl park first.

    I mean if we could make that happen think about how happy Nick would be to have a statue of a goal keeper out front of ppl park.

    • Nice. There is a lot of money in these parts that much I know.
      I love the start up clubs in 3rd division leagues that are fan backed. Look no further than I believe Chattanooga FC and San Francisco FC. These are really grass roots clubs with big ideas and it is clubs like these over the next years as the game develops that will push the Pro/Rel argument into a whole new direction. The more small clubs that become medium clubs that join NASL the better. NASL has to be a viable league. Has to be. If not the MLS monopoly will forever hold back growth of the game here- and hey, I mostly like what it is trying to do.
      I have 100% faith that someday there is going to be a viable ulterior league that will institute and successfully maintain Pro/Rel and MLS is going to be forced to decide whether they want to be part of a huge pot or swim in their own fishbowl.
      The Cosmos wanted no part of the single entity MLS and have hitched their vision to NASL to grow over the long haul and adopt a proper hierarchy of teams that belong in the top league versus the ones that fight to get back up versus this gratuitous handshake and pat on the back no worries you’re one of us old boy league that the pandering of MLS has and will continue to be.
      And anyone who sights Chivas USA as a contrapuntal argument to said handshake network of gratuity, needs look no further than the suddenly popping up LAFC in the wake of Chivas’ death.

      • James Lockerbie says:

        I can’t say I am for or against pro/rel but how does that help the fans of the middle tier teams in each level of competition. I mean there’s the manchester clubs at the top then there are the newcastle type clubs that get stuck in the middle year after year wouldn’t the Union fit in that category anyway?

      • Here’s the thing, yes Newcastle is a middle of the table team. But they are a middle of the table team in a nation with around 400 professional clubs- so now all of a sudden by that metric, Newcastle is pretty high up the pecking order.
        I am all for improving the quality and sophistication of our play stateside and until we have a promotion relegation system the level of play will continue to be marginal with painfully incremental growth if any real growth and development.
        I recognize there are many among us on the blog and at the grocery store who think our model is fine, but it’s not and yes if the Union were a mid table team in the Premier League of the US then I would have to accept that just like I have to accept it now- the quality of the play however would be much improved which is what I am all about because the bottom teams would always be pruned out by new growth which keeps the teams above always have to play high end futbol.
        There is no question it is the necessary arc of growth for the game. I could argue ad infinitum about this. There is honor and prestige to being a perennial top club like Newcastle United. Just like in 45 years we could say the same about our club in Philadelphia.
        The revolution needs to be televised. Single entity professional soccer league is bad for growth of the game.
        IMHO of course.

  7. Curtin made it clear that was to stay in the room?

    Excuse me, but what the happy eff is that? If he wants to share personal details about his life to 50 close friends he’s just met for the first time, great. If he wants to share the direction of the team, why in Garber’s name should that not see the light of day? Because a few people have a membership card?

    Screw that noise.

    Thanks for the fashion write-up though.

    • James Lockerbie says:

      I guess he wants to keep the number of pissed off fans to as low a # as possible, if the moves he and C.A are planning fall through?????

  8. I just looked up ‘sycophancy’ in the dictionary and it gave me this article.

    • Yes, I drink the Koolaid. I don’t apologize for it.

    • Oh please.. Staci, think nothing of Dave R’s boring pathetically unimaginable response. Your posts have a great following. Please continue!

    • PSP’s Fans’ View feature presents the views of individual fans. She may not be a critical one in this post, but that’s up to her. Either way, she’s a fan, and she can express that however she pleases. We like her writing, much as we’ve liked the writing of other fans who have been very critical in their PSP Fans’ View posts.

  9. Was in the same bar 3 years ago with the previous coach and the FO. At that time they said they had a plan; but look what it came to… Hope this time the plan will work. I doubt it; unless we sign 2 good players I see us end in last place come October.

  10. Atomic Fury says:

    My take on it is they are aiming for middle-of-the-pack success while selling the faithful on winning the cup in order to recoup their investment. A logical – if flawed – strategy, one hard to dismiss because of the lack of any name talent, three head coaches, and no improvement after 5 years of existence. I often rail about the rest of the PPL Park project and the reluctance of the ownership to complete the complex. But it too falls into line. The only place this franchise is going is another city or the short roster of defunct MLS teams.

    • There is no way the club moves IMO. Way too many people invested from the bottom up- YSC, Academy, New High School, lovely unfinished complex…
      The idea of middle of the pack contentedness could be spot on though.
      I’m always weighing what the Union are against what I hoped them to be- no wonder why the native Philadelphian has an innate inferiority complex.

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