Daily news roundups

News roundup: Union staff and player rumors, Academy minutes, MLS playoff previews, more

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union

Offseason rumors are already flying off the shelves! Some are staff related. Kevin Kinkead reports:

Under pressure, Jim Curtin knows changes are needed.

Some Union players back Curtin.

In a very simple spreadsheet that tells a big story, MLS minutes played by Academy products. Philadelphia rank 4th-worst in the league. Red Bulls come in first. As @PhilSoc8 commented, the Union’s strategy is, “don’t spend money AND don’t play the kids.”

Major League Soccer

Elsewhere in MLS, some heads have started rolling. Mauro Biello was fired from Montreal, while Mike Petke received a three-year contract extension for Real Salt Lake. Interesting how short some other teams’ leashes are.

Decision Day wrap up!

The playoffs are coming hard and fast:

Charlotte’s MLS dream is dead for now. In Nashville, a proposed privately-funded stadium comes with mixed-use development.

Highlight of the Day

How to get sent off in less than 10 seconds!


  1. on first glancing at the highlight of the day I thought it read how to get off in less than 10 seconds

  2. While I suspect what I am about to say is roughly what the club’s spokesmen would, in regards the interesting spreadsheet of academy product minutes, how long has the transition step, from Academy to first team been available in each organization?
    The top three NY, LA & FCD have had their academies the longest. The other clubs I know,little about.
    The Union stepping stone has existed only for two seasons, the key word being existed. The first year had some mistakes in it. The second saw clear improvement that reflected direct experience of what was needed and adaptation to it. I am focused on roster flexibility, player quality and how to use the academy, not onfield statistics.
    ES has experience running an academy, but American child labor laws and NCAA amateur-status maintenance rules are new. And protections for club investment in its youth system here are embryonic.
    It is my opinion that TWO years, not one, will elapse before the rebooted Union 2.0 will be ready for prime time. Another reason for that is getting out from under contracts with players who have reached their developmental ceilings, some of which were negotiated by ES as necessary stop-gaps.

    • I agree, but also I am happy with the academy just from passing the eye test.

      We go Jones, who honestly should have played more. He should have found spot starts to spell both Bedoya and Medu.

      Trusty is developing well and preformed well at the U20s so I have all the faith he can be a starter for us soon.

      Real is on a good path at an important position, and him starting all year is a great sign.

      In what limited I’ve seen and heard of Fontana, I like the signing.

      So yeah, the numbers aren’t there – and they certainly NEED to improve each year. But in lieu of the numbers, I like the trajectory we are on.

  3. It seems to me that Jim Curtin has been putting a lot of blame on the players for this season – suggesting that the Union’s numerous road losses were due to the players not being good enough (“knife to a gunfight”) or not executing properly – when he should be taking a long look in the mirror to consider how the head coach has been failing the team.
    There’s been a lot of turnover in Chester over the past four losing seasons – both on the field and in the front office – but one of the constants has been the head coach (at least since mid-2014).

    • While I don’t really disagree, MLS teams are almost all really bad on the road for whatever reason. Now the Union were a step below that, but it really is a crazy discrepancy in this league.

  4. The mass exodus has me — for the first time, really — uncertain Curtin is going to coach next year. That’s a lot of restless legs on the lower decks. Suggests a change coming at the top. A warning sign, maybe?

    The academy minutes list is interesting. It’s pretty clear that Philly’s stated goal, really, is to follow the Red Bull model. That team has — since the departure of Cahill and Henry — been a pretty modest-spending club that isn’t afraid to cut ties with the old and play the kids. And they get to the playoffs using that model. Kudos to them, though I think they’re clearly going to need a miracle to make it past the second round where the bigger spending clubs look very good.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Pete. Jim Curtin isn’t going anywhere.

      • John O'Donnell says:

        Maybe over seas again for more tutoring but that’s it.

      • My head knows this, but my heart still hopes….

      • Correct. A group of us were told the same by Earnie that Curtin will stay. Had also an interesting discussion with Earnie about the losses away from home. I told him that it may have been due the 4-2-3-1 formation they use in the Academy, at home and away. He disputed it and thinks there were other factors (such as mental ones) that caused the losses…. Whatever it was, it is the coach that bears responsibility for having such an inconsistent team. The team showed multiple times that they can play well and that they can be good.

  5. How can the team say it is focused on the kids when none of them get a chance…even at the end of a meaningless season? How did the “young” academy prevent Jones, Najem, Trusty, from seeing the MLS field this fall? How much more time do they need to let them play? Najem is 22 already. How is this helping him develop?

  6. John O'Donnell says:

    Love the knockout games and wish the playoffs were win or go home. It would put more importance on the regular season with the chance to host every game including MLS Cup. With that, my picks for the first round are NYRB over Chicago on penalty kicks and the home teams advancing in the other three games.

    I hate to say it but Chicago remind me of the Union of last year with their great start and going back to the playoffs after a dreadful season. But that’s where it ends as they went out and spent money on the roster. I just don’t think they have enough to get past a playoff tested Red Bull team. Chicago gets the early lead but Red Bull win this game 2-1.

    Houston is just a different team at home and KC only had two road wins this year. I think Cubo has a big game here with two goals. 3-0 Houston

    Vancouver and San Jose might be the most competitive game in the first round as both teams have major flaws. San Jose somehow finished sixth with a -21 goal differential, after winning a thrilling decision day Game in extra time. Vancouver just doesn’t exactly light it up at home but I think they get an early two goal lead and grind out a 3-2 win.

    Lastly we have the dream expansion team in Atlanta United. The team every Philadelphia Union wishes we could be. Wasn’t that long ago most soccer critics were crying about a NFL guy buying a team for his new stadium just to fill some dates. Don’t hear to much complaining the terrible Atlanta sports market or the NFL owner anymore. Meanwhile MLS has avoided the embarrassment of Columbus hosting a playoff game…for now. Columbus has been on a roll with a ten game unbeaten streak as Atlanta has been stumbling without a win in their last four games but that all comes to an end Thursday. With Almirón back room injury, this game should be the most entertaining of the first round. 4-2 Atlanta

    With the end of the first round I’m sure Don Garber has visions of 70,000 plus filling the stadium for MLS Cup dancing in his head as well.

  7. https://www.brotherlygame.com/2017/10/24/16331664/philadelphia-union-2017-attendance-major-league-soccer-atlanta-united-record-attendance

    How long before we hear Garber talking about Philly’s “troubling business metrics”? This team better get its act together this offseason.

    • I am Citizen Insane says:

      It will be even better when we read from the owner how there just wasn’t enough fan interest wink wink Anthony Precourt

    • Hope Union does move.
      Then new group can start over with lessons learned….better stadium size and location and better sponsor name on the jerseys.
      Sugarman just selling team keeps status quo…18,000 seats in Chester doesn’t make spending like Atlanta profitable at all.
      Absence of mls team for a few years with a usl team using talen will build proven support for philly ‘re-entry into mls and maybe even with an nwsl partner to boot…double headers with them and may be local college teams. Extra bang for the buck for fans and teams.

  8. The team is a mess, period. Anyone who says otherwise isn’t seeing the big picture. Note that I didn’t say everything about the team is a mess, but overall they are. Overspending on underwhelming players because ES has to basically take a shot at the 300-400k guys bc that’s usually the lowest salary anywhere else. Never changing lineups or formations and sticking with certain players no matter how they play. Lowered attendance, bad infrastructure, reluctance to play younger guys as the season ended.
    The team is not going backwards, but they’re taking 2 steps forward as the rest of the league takes 5.

  9. John Harris says:

    Pete’s comments speculating about the league being concerned with troubling metrics… Respectfully, I don’t see it. Columbus was a good organization in a small market. Union are a really bad organization in a big market. If the Union left, another owner would want to fill the void. All sounds expensive so MLS would probably intervene. Long way of saying I just don’t see it.
    Another way to put the argument… what was the last professional sports team to leave Philly? (Warriors) When was that? (50 years ago… 50) How did it work for them? (So so.) Disastrous for the A’s. No one is leaving Philly. Too big; fans too loyal.

    • Philadelphia Wings.

    • The point, though, is that no MLS club is for the fans. It’s a fast food franchise. If it’s not doing business on a particular corner, it’ll move. This isn’t on the Union, but the league. It asks for loyalty and works to create this illusion of authenticity, but will up and leave without so much as a process for fans to feel like they have even a little stake in the matter. If MLS lets Precourt leave for Austin, and that looks like almost a certainty, and fails to restore the Crew franchise to Columbus, I think it’s a catastrophe for the league. I’m not naive enough to think they’ll see massive boycotts, but they’ll do serious damage to their credibility (at least as long as Garber is at the helm). It will really turn off the sort of genuine football fans — the majority who chose the PL and Liga MX over MLS — they’re desperately trying to attract.

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