Polls / Season Reviews / Union

Readers poll/PSP panel: Should Jim Curtin return as Union head coach?

Photo: Earl Gardner

Should Jim Curtin remain Philadelphia Union’s head coach for the 2018 season?

Now that the season is done, it’s time to ask that question. Again.

You’ve watched the team. You know the results this year. Curtin’s career MLS record is as follows:

  • 2014: 7-5-6 (6th place, East; 1.5 ppg; runner-up, U.S. Open Cup)
  • 2015: 10-17-7 (9th place, East; 1.09 ppg; runner-up, U.S. Open Cup)
  • 2016: 11-14-9 (6th place, East; 1.24 ppg; knocked out of MLS playoffs first round)
  • 2017: 11-14-9 (8th place, East; 1.24 ppg)
  • Total: 38-50-31 (1.22 ppg)

Readers’ poll

Please vote in the poll and explain your vote in the Comments section below.

Should Jim Curtin return as Philadelphia Union's head coach for the 2018 season?

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PSP writers’ views

We asked PSP writers for their views on whether Curtin should coach the Union in 2018. With so many Union fans and PSP readers talking about this, it’s not really a question we could avoid if we want to maintain credibility with our readers.

Here’s what our writers have to say.

Peter Andrews: No.

There are two questions you have to ask if you’re going to fire a manager:

  1. Is the manager actively making the team better?
  2. Are the manager’s decisions contributing to a long-term plan?

For Curtin, the answer to both questions is no.

Curtin’s tactical inflexibility, stagnant rotations, and inability to make in-game adjustments prevent the Union from becoming more than just the sum of its parts. Further, Curtin’s preference for veterans and poor handling of young players mean that he is actively impeding the club’s stated goal of developing talent from within the system. After watching what has happened to the Union’s youth this season, it’s tough to say that Curtin should be entrusted with Anthony Fontana.

Curtin’s service to the club should be commended, but it’s time for Earnie Stewart to install his preferred coach — one from outside the organization, and with previous experience as a top-flight manager.

Tim Jones: Yes. 

Jim Curtin should return for the 2018 season.

  • Earnie Stewart will remake the Union’s foundation before acquiring creative difference-makers. Given 2017 contracts, he wants two more years to complete his foundation, since several currently contracted players have reached their developmental ceilings. The transformation will occur after the foundation is laid.
  • Stewart’s concept for the organization’s decision-makers is integrated teamwork supervising all levels. The Union Academy’s school, its teams, Bethlehem Steel FC, and the Union carefully consider every decision’s implications for all. Stewart fosters the cooperation, coordination and teamwork necessary to realize a single underlying philosophy.  Disrupting that teamwork is premature until the foundation’s completion allows a first-team coaching change a chance to strive for a champion.
  • Seeing the first-team practice on Sep. 30, the players still enjoy each other’s company on the pitch, they play for each other, and in the face of poor results they remain united. Jim Curtin builds and maintains team unity. Before you throw that away, speak aloud two words: “Peter Novak.”
Jim O’Leary: No.

Let’s take Earnie Stewart’s commitment to youth development at face value.

If building talent is the Union’s philosophy, then Jim Curtin clearly isn’t on the same page. Keegan Rosenberry is rotting on the vine, Derrick Jones rarely found the field after a promising start to 2017, and we still haven’t seen Auston Trusty play for the Union.

With three games left after being eliminated from the playoffs, Curtin fielded the same lineup that failed to get results all season rather than test these young players. That isn’t to say they would have wowed us all with their formidable skills and singlehandedly saved the season. Odds are that none would have changed the results of those final three games. But at least everyone –the coaching staff, the players themselves, and even the fans – would have an idea of where they are in their development and what they need to work on to become ready for MLS competition.

As much fun as it was to beat Orlando 6-1, it would have been significantly more valuable to learn about these players, even if it led to a meaningless home loss.

Instead, like so many times before, Curtin was completely inflexible tactically. He refuses to change, and as long as he’s at the helm, it seems likely the Union’s fortunes won’t change either.

Matt McClain: Yes.

Yes, Jim Curtin should return as Union head coach in 2018.

In MLS, it is crucial to win your home games, and Curtin did just that by setting a new franchise record for home victories. It may be a fair argument that a better road record could have placed the Union in a playoff race for that final spot. A worrisome aspect of the season was the team’s inconsistency and an inability to hold onto draws.

The front office decision to be frugal once again this season proved to be the deciding factor for the team. A head coach can only do so much with his roster, and Curtin hit a wall this season due to a lack of skilled players. Curtin’s history within the organization serves as another reason for one more season.

The organization should give Curtin one final shot to reach the playoffs. 2018 should be a playoff or bust year with no excuses.

Chris Gibbons: No. 

Jim Curtin is the youngest coach in MLS but among the most tenured. One of the primary knocks on him is his system inflexibility, which might be a function of his relative youth, though it can’t be chalked up to inexperience anymore. Every iteration of his squad has been fatally flawed, it’s clear, but the same can be said for every team in the history of the league. Earnie Stewart’s guidance didn’t suddenly make him wiser, unfortunately.

In response to an evermore apathetic fan base, it’s probably time for him to move on. The data say his departure won’t make the team better, but he’s becoming a talisman for decreasing engagement, and that’s not a good place for a coach to be.

Dan Walsh: No. 

It’s probably time to move on.

That seems unfair in some ways. The Union were the only team with a positive goal differential to miss the playoffs this year. They were best in the East last year until they suddenly and unexpectedly lost Vincent Nogueira. Had Nogueira stayed, he and Tranquillo Barnetta might have led the Union to a conference title in 2016, and this would be a different story. But Nogueira didn’t, and then Barnetta left. The failure to replace Barnetta lies with Earnie Stewart and Jay Sugarman, not Curtin, who managed this season without a key, necessary piece.

But Curtin still had plenty of time and ways to prove himself.

Curtin has demonstrated a consistent lack of flexibility and creativity and mismanaged his young talent. Every significant under-25 player from last year’s team regressed in 2017, and that’s a deal-killer for a club whose supposed philosophy is to develop young talent.

Almost everyone likes Curtin off the field. He carries himself like a man should. I particularly loved everything he said about the national anthem protests. But you also have to win enough games on the field. It’s a tough call, and I’m torn on it, but something has to change.

Editor’s note: We included these write-ups in the same post as the poll because we thought it best to centralize the inevitable reader discussion in one place.

84 Comments

  1. The thing here that rings most true for me is part of Dan’s very last sentence: “It’s a tough call, and I’m torn on it…”

    It’s hard to give Curtin a whole lot of credit for much this season, and as many said above, the tactical inflexibility, too-late substitutions, and poor handling of young players are really problematic. So is the lack of squad rotation.

    And yet, there is a fair amount of evidence that coaches don’t make that much difference in the end. You always have to consider whether the inherent turmoil is worthwhile. Especially for someone well-liked by his players as Curtin.

    In the end, my vote was for “I don’t know”. I won’t be particularly upset if Curtin is gone this off-season, but neither do I think a new coach is likely to make the difference.

    • That’s how I feel as well, Curtin is still a semi new coach, he has a lot of issues but you also have an owner who is not spending nearly enough on players and ultimately it’s the players who win games. I don’t think it would be the worst thing for Jim to leave but a new coach doesn’t solve all problems if you’re still missing pieces. Hopefully if he leaves Jim finds a job as an assistant somewhere and learns a bit more.

  2. I’ll ask the question that I’ve been asking for awhile now. What does Jim Curtin do to make this team better? For myself, the answer is, I don’t know. After two and a half seasons shouldn’t there be an answer to that question besides I don’t know?

  3. There is a clear and underlying theme to most of these opinions – lack of flexibility in squad rotation and formation. We could all go back and forth on whether the players were good enough, or whether Earnie should’ve signed better players, or any number of other reasons why the team wasn’t good, but if you are evaluating the manager those 2 things I mentioned are crucial. If Curtin gets credit for good lineup and sub decisions in wins, he should get equal blame for losses. And if the loss was player mistakes or something out of his control, he is responsible for fixing that, through training and preparation or a new person in the lineup. With those things in mind he should not return because he – and we evaluate players like this, especially as fans – did not perform up to expectations. He is a great guy and a good ambassador for the team and the league, but the team needs to move in a different direction in terms of the position.

  4. I voted no. While I have been (and still am)a staunch advocate of the Union bringing in solid (Proven) DP’s along with quality MLS talent and playing the young talent as a 1a. Number 1 is coaching. Jim Curtin has shown from day one that he has no ability to game plan or adjust. The Union had talent and a deeper bench but you’d never know it.

    He’s not a good coach yet and is over his head. Nice home town guy story blah, blah, blah. Philly tough and blue collar blah, blah, blah. Dammit I want someone who can coach to win and has the fire passion and soccer IQ to really bring it game in and game out. Jim may turn out to be an excellent coach but in this time and place this franchise needs passion, fire, knowledge and creativity from top to bottom.

    I’m not and Earnie fan either. I want to see what he does moving forward but he has to show that he can adjust as well and give us more than cliches, talking points and tired analytics.

    The elephant in the room is always going to be Sugarman until he sells to someone who wants to build a true soccer culture for this region.

  5. I voted ‘no’. He should be held accountable for the bad away record. The team clearly was better (based on the many home wins) than what they showed on the road. After the last 2 years this was a year in which he really should have proven to us that he is a top coach in MLS; he clearly is not.

  6. I’m torn and it honestly doesn’t matter to me if he stays or goes mainly because I agree that coaching is generally over-rated and I think our roster construction is terrible.
    .
    I will say that I think everyone is equating lack of formation change with lack of tactical changes and I think that’s just plain wrong. We did many different things things year in terms of how we setup defensively, how we transitioned, how we setup in attack. Just saying that we are playing a 4-4-2 doesn’t really change anything because players play how they play. When Alberg is out there we are playing 2 forwards because lets face it, he’s not a midfielder. Now were never went crazy and tried 3 in the back or anything like that, but most teams don’t make major changes like that anyway.

  7. I am Citizen Insane says:

    .
    Friends. In modern footy any coach who condones and oversees the amount of Route 1 United Kingdom ball this teams plays when there is no threat of relegation simply is unequipped to lead a MLS 2.0 2.25 2.57689 or 3.0 franchise.
    .
    How this is even debatable after 2.5 years is where I become grossly concerned with many many many opinions especially those above who seen to think coaching is grossly overrated. Tell that to Napoli fans.
    .
    What I am most stunned about is not that Jim Curtin oversees this— it’s that the Sporting Director I was counting on to bring a Continental European philosophy of play and sophistication to Chester—— seems totally fucking okay with it.

    • Atomic Spartan says:

      We forget how inexperienced JC is. He never got to study long under any bona fide coach at a top level. And as a young inexperienced coach, how strongly will he ever push for better players? Tired of paying for his education? If he must stay, keep him as an apprentice to a Master.

  8. The answer is NO.
    If you are “bringing a knife to a gun fight” every match then you better become a real creative and elusive knife fighter. Instead the U stand right in front of the gun (same formation every match), they reach for their knife and toss it the same way ever time (defense first and counterattack from the occasional turnover) and then surprise, surprise, surprise the darn gunfighter shoots ’em dead more times than not. Definition of insanity….

    • I want a coach that will give them guns, not knives.
      .
      That statement stands no matter who is on the roster.
      .
      Jim has been giving theses guys sticks….

  9. I’ve been consistent since the interim tag was removed in 2014 (it shouldn’t have been). Keeping Curtin, which I think they will, says without equivocation, results do not matter.
    .
    He’s at the same PPG 1.22 as Hackworth but with MORE money, BETTER talent, REAL training facilities, ACTUAL DPs (sorry Freddy). Curtin stated in February that Earnie was bringing in depth so they were two-deep at every position and that this was the most talented squad yet. And…he did what with that? The same losing record.
    .
    Wanting him to move on and thinking he will are very different. I don’t think Sugarman fires him (let’s not kid ourselves on who really will call the shot). I think it’ll be just like players moving on, he’ll leave at contract expiry and move on a “free” to go coach Villanova or something.

  10. I’m actually fairly ambivalent about bringing back Curtin.
    His game plans for teams are usually spot on.
    His subs have improved over his time here. (and if he hasn’t used all of his subs in games that is usually because there was literally no one to put in that would make a difference.)
    His tactics are open to debate, but it seems the entire organization is married 4-2-3-1 so a two striker set up would have to be a top bottom decision made by the entire club.
    .
    There is the play the kids argument but
    1. That is a player development question and that falls squarely into Earnie’s domain.
    2. Orlando played that kids on Sunday. What did they learn getting their ass whipped 6-1
    .
    On the other hand there was listless play down the stretch when games still mattered and that meant a lot to me. I am from the NHL school of coaching that believes that players sometimes tune out coaches or they go stale and that listlessness was something of an indicator to me.
    .
    But if you want to get another coach, get another coach. Get someone who can motivate and improve this team. Don’t just take a flyer on someone in the organization. Curtin has improved to the point where he is a solid MLS quality coach, A better coach than Hackworth (fight me!).
    If you want to debate the quality of MLS coaching you can certainly do that.
    .
    But at the end of the day it comes down to money and players. slots 5 through 11 in the east standings pretty much comes down to breaks and luck. Were some of those teams better than others sure you can definitely say the Red Bulls under performed.
    But is Columbus better than the Union? Not significantly.
    .
    Lets put it this way if Dre had started the season in his expected form how many points would that have been 1-2?
    If Pontius had been as half as good as he was last year how many points would that have been 3-5?
    If Herbers hadn’t gone down? If Rosenberry hadn’t crashed to earth? If Yaro was more reliable? ect.
    We could have been easily talking about a playoff team, people might have felt better but we would still be stuck in the same parity muck that is the MLS business model. It can be exciting if the entire league is like that but now with teams like Atlanta and Toronto it looks like we are stuck in the mud.
    .
    Hell a couple of splashy signings turned Chicago from a bunch of Jamokes into a 3rd place playoff team.
    .
    So yea if you think you have THE GUY replace Curtin. But to replace him with some dude who is gonna have the same learning curve or some MLS dinosaur stuck in older ways of coaching is that really an improvement?

  11. I voted to keep Curtin because firing him seems like getting rid of a foreman on a construction job when the developer doesn’t provide adequate building materials.

    • What if the developer’s incompetence wasn’t limited to just building materials?

      .

      What if… and hear me out here… the developer also picked a poor foreman?

  12. Just look at how our promising young players have developed under Curtin. That should be all the answer you need…

  13. I voted yes. The team actually did better than last year but missed the playoffs – and with a much worse roster. +3 goal difference with this team is excellent. Give Curtin actual talent and he takes us well into the playoffs. Be mad at Sugarman, don’t make Jim your scapegoat.

    • LOL. This guy is funny.

      • Not sure what was funny. His points are valid. Last year, Tranquilla was on the field. This year he wasn’t.

      • The Union had the exact same record as last year, so how is that better? This has been claimed by the coach and SD as the deepest team they’ve ever had. If so, what did Jim do with said roster? He missed the playoffs and still finished with the same record as last year. “Give Curtin actual talent and he takes us well into the playoffs.” That right there is the biggest laugh. Valid points? Ah so funny.

      • Same record but better goal differential so technically better. (Yes, eliminate the 10-1 combined scores against Orlando and DC United and the goal differential becomes worse than last year.)

    • Why not dream bigger and the CONCACAF Champions League Cup? We’re this close…

  14. Jerome soccer man says:

    Curtain is a nice guy but couldn’t coach a good college program he is way above his head, American style soccer kick and run

  15. Curtain is not THE problem, but it is hard to point to any thing he is doing to mitigate issues and there MUST be accountability. We’ve had 2 disappointing seasons in a row and no signs of any improvement (short of “we know we need better players”). If Curtain and Earnie stay, how can we expect anything but more of the same?
    .
    With that said, I fully expect that we will all miss Curtain once he is gone and the replacement does even worse…

  16. The Chopper says:

    If Jim Curtin stays, Jay Sugarman owns the Union. If Jim Curtin goes, Jay Sugarman owns the Union. Hence , we are screwed either way.

  17. I voted no. A lot of great points raised by the editors and commenters on both sides, but I wanted to address Dan Walsh’s reasons because I felt very similarly (but I’m gonna take my time getting there).

    Curtin is a man of integrity. You want people like him in your organization, no matter what the industry is. I do agree that Curtin falls short on important characteristics that a good coach should have, such as tactical flexibility (both in-game and in-season) and, shall we say, somehow both odd and predictable substitution patterns at the same time. The youth development situation is a bit more complicated; as somebody commented above, throwing a bunch of youth on the field before you think they’re ready doesn’t help their development – if they’re getting shellacked each game, it’s going to blow up their psyches. On the other hand, we also didn’t really see much individual rotation of young players throughout the season, which could have been much more beneficial to both the players and the team (i.e., putting one or two young guys in for a half or a game every 4 or 5 games and rotating them through, so the team isn’t super weak on any given week). More concerning is the fact that, short of Blake, rookie standouts almost always regress massively the following year.

    In short, I felt ambivalent about it because I don’t think a new coach will solve the long-term problems of this organization, which are largely structural (scouting, money, etc.), and I don’t think Curtin is a bad coach. Having had a better coach might have snuck us into the playoffs this year but wouldn’t solve the long-term problems. However, I ultimately voted no because I think new situations are the key to growth, and they can inject energy into organizations and personnel alike. I think Curtin can actually grow quite a bit from being in a different situation.

    I had a friend who was performing badly at his job some years back (he didn’t really have the support he needed and was in a position he wasn’t ready for) and got fired. He took it badly, saw it as a personal reflection of his self-worth, and this was compounded by the fact that he had trouble getting a new job in the same industry (didn’t exactly have a ringing endorsement from his former employers). After a while, though, he began to treat it as an opportunity for growth – looking at went wrong, at what his underlying philosophy and assumptions were and how those may have been poorly suited for his job, etc. Eventually he was able to address these suitably in job interviews and convinced somebody to hire him. Being in a new situation also forced him to grow and adapt to problems in new ways. My point is this: even though in some ways it’s hard to blame Curtin for the woes of the Union, the fact that he’s been long-tenured with the Union has lead to stagnancy, both in his habits and attitudes, and with the organization as a whole. I think parting ways could be good for both him and the Union, as it would break up that stagnancy (in some ways). If he’s able to learn and grow, he could yet turn into a very good coach – but I don’t think he’ll be able to do that if he stays with the Union.

  18. I’m biased on Curtin because I really like him, but this might be my biggest objection to firing him…
    .
    Who will be his replacement?
    .
    Think about it for a minute. Do you think that Sugarman is going to dump a ton of money into a Tata Martino level coach? No. And unless you’re willing to do that, a coach isn’t going to take a mid-tier salary budget and win an MLS title. All you do by firing Curtin is hit the reset button. Unfortunately, you’re still playing the same game.

    • About two years ago, I answered that question like this:

      1) Veljko Paunovic

      2) Guillermo Barros Schelotto

      3) Mike Petke

      4) Eric Wynalda

      Pretty good list, in retrospect. The Union probably could’ve had any of those guys. Maybe you could make a similar quality list today if you think about it a bit. And the fact that I could make that list — and I see how well those guys (except Wynalda) have done — makes me think it’s realistic you could find someone affordable and good. So I don’t include that question anymore as part of my reasoning on this one.

      • I betcha the freakin printers don’t work down at Talen either.

      • that was a great list. Wish we had gotten any of those top 3

      • Sorry Dan, I’ve read your comments on here and I’m going to call BULLSHIT.

        How’d Pano did last year before getting Dax, Schweinsteiger, and Nikolic? 31 points, dead last in the league. And this season, the Fire were poor at best in the 2nd half of the season, punctuated by that dog of an effort last night.

        Petke? He missed the playoffs in a weak Western Conference with players like Rusnak, Savarino, and Plata. Union don’t have anywhere near that talent offensively. And he was under .500.

        It’s about talent in professional sports, period. You give Curtin some talent and he gets 42 points, then you have an argument.

      • Mike, I was merely using them to illustrate the point that there are always good candidates out there in the soccer world, so I no longer incorporate the question of who would replace a coach into the equation of whether to replace that coach. I’m not saying any of them would have taken the Union to the playoffs. (I’m also not saying they wouldn’t. I only said what I said.)

        That said, I’m perfectly happy to argue with you about Petke. His team spent half the season riddled with injuries (particularly on the back line, where at one point they were down to their 5th or 6th CB), he joined the team after preseason camp, and he still almost got perhaps the league’s youngest team into the playoffs. (If you discount the first three winless games under Cassar, and they qualify on PPG.) He also didn’t get Savarino until the season had started, Plata was garbage for weeks early on, and this isn’t so loaded a team that they could afford to lose any talent.

    • MLS is designed to be competitive. Teams can and have turned it around in one season (Hi Chicago!). It’s also possible to be competitive and build for the future as well. Competent coaching and reasonable signings can make the Union a contender next year.

      .

      Curtin can’t coach. We don’t need a 5th season to see that. Hire a 5 lb. bag of flour. It’ll do equally as well as Jim.

      • A coach (Paunovic) didn’t turn the Fire around. Having the 4th highest payroll in the league did.

      • I look forward to reading all these pro-Curtin comments next year when the team starts off win-less through March and April again.

      • Haha. True. Honestly, even if they do go out and buy more quality players, I’m still not expecting immediate results. My point is, I just don’t think replacing Curtin is the answer.

      • Spuggar, if we go out and get better players you absolutely should expect better results! Unfortunately, Union coaches over the life of the team have taught you otherwise.
        .
        It shouldn’t be this way and the Union deserve better.
        .
        There is nothing holding us back from being a legitimate contender in the playoffs next year. We have the cap space, we should have the roster space, and even if Sugarman doesn’t buy us two $6mil DP’s, we should still be there. The Crew made it to MLS Cup with the cheapest DP’s in MLS.
        .
        The difference – the coach.

    • So your argument is what….don’t ever try? He’s had parts of four seasons. He’s brought in his guys. He’s run his formation. He’s been handed a reserve team and practice fields and a training facility and done what?
      .
      Literally standing still.

      • No, my point is try in different areas. Spend your limited money in places where it has a bigger impact. New coach means new players, new costly contracts and another 2 years of waiting to see if it works. Curtin’s teams have finished exactly where you would expect their quality based on roster salary to place. No worse, no better. So unless you’re going to go out and get Alex Ferguson to come out of retirement, you’re not fixing the elephant in the room = Sugarman’s wallet.

  19. Who cares who the manager is if the roster is not tailored to fit how the manager would like to play.

    If Sugarman continues to throw around nickels like manhole covers and Stewart provides ill-fitting players because of it, it really doesn’t matter who the manager is because ultimately, the project will be a failure.

    • The home record this year was 11-5-3 (if my calculations were correct). That is very good and showed that the team was good enough. The whole point is that the away record was terrible. Sugarman had no impact on that; Curtin must be held accountable for that!

      • True to a certain extent, but role or lesser players typically play better at home than on the road. And I totally agree that their performance on the road was terrible, but they did finish 8 points out of the 6th spot so that’s a lot of points to make up.

        However, even if you judged the Union solely on the amount of points that they took from home matches, they still would have finished tied for 7th with Red Bull. Still not a playoff team.

    • Zizouisgod yes, exactly

  20. No. Let’s not forget that
    .
    This is the Coach who played Bedoya at the 10.
    .
    Put Jones on the bench after a very strong performance in the U20 World cup.
    .
    Continued running Pontius on the wing game after game with no contribution to the scoreboard.
    .
    Never put Bedoya on the wing (the position he 1. likely plays the best, 2. does so for the National team, and 3. would likely answer his most favored position.)
    .
    And on, and on. (He fails at squad rotation and lineup adjustments to get players in their best positions)
    .
    Plus … he has not demonstrated the ability to (during a game) counter the opponent’s tactical changes. He goes in with a game plan to breakdown what a team has shown on tape. Once the other coach realizes how we are attempting to shut them down and they alter their tactics, we stick with our original plan.
    .
    Lastly, where is Adam Cann’s answer?

    • PSP has enough writers that we stuck to the ones who aren’t generally doing straight reporting on the team for this one. (That’s why Mike isn’t on this one either, along with 1-2 others I expect to be in the reporting mix next year.) Adam interviews guys with the team, and when he does, they’re usually great interviews. I don’t want him doing an interview with Jim Curtin, and the whole thing consists of, “So Adam, you want me out, huh?” (To be clear, I don’t know Adam’s view on the question.)

  21. santo bevacqua says:

    I would keep him pending another year with the young players, another coach at this stage of the franchise would be detrimental. Also i like his conservatism, he does not engage in experimental lineups just to shake things up. I think the combo of youth and some quality players especially a talented 10 would be all that may be needed for success. The ball is more in the directors court.

  22. should be gone.
    decisions are infuriating. slow to change, inflexible and adaptability in-match are all negatives. he’s as responsible for the results as are the 11 men on the pitch. it’s an embarrassment he still has a job.
    i need a new coach.

  23. I like Jim as a person. He’s very likable. But as a result of that, and his inexperience, he doesn’t project much gravitas. He’s not a motivator.
    .
    Say what you will about the tactics, and the youth development (and there is plenty to be said), etc., I think he lacks the ability, at this stage of his career, to get the best out of his players on a regular basis.
    .
    I hope he succeeds, and I wish him the best. But for his career, and for the franchise, it needs to be somewhere else.

  24. I answered I don’t know. A lot depends on some things we don’t know the answer to. The most important is whether it is Curtin or Stewart driving the 4-2-3-1. If the former then a new coach may make sense. If the latter, then I don’t think it’s worthwhile getting a new coach because Stewart should be focusing on getting players to fit his system rather than worrying about searching for a coach.

    • I think they’ve said before that when Earnie arrived they sat down together and tried to come up with a vision of what they wanted the team to look like. I know Earnie has said something along the lines of it’s not “his” vision alone, but the entire club’s vision. So, place the blame all around I guess.

      • Yeah how is “who’s idea was this formation” still a question? It’s been answered multiple times by the manager and SD and repeated here on this site repeatedly.

      • It’s not just whose idea the formation is, but who is driving it. If Stewart would still insist on this formation to keep consistency through the organization, even if there’s a new coach, it becomes significantly less imperative to get a new coach and more important to spend the time to get players who fit the system. If Stewart is OK with another system that the new coach wants, and it’s a system that works with a roster similar to the current one (with some upgrades in a couple of places), then get a new coach.

      • Stewart has gone on the record saying that formations really aren’t that important. He’s also said it’s difficult for players to learn new formations. Again, when Stewart came in, he asked Jim how he wanted to play. Jim said 4-3-2-1 and that’s where the five year plan started. From this, it seems it’s not a who’s either/or driving this thing, it’s a WE thing, as in both of them. Stewart has hitched his cart to Curtin and will ride him till the end, which is why Curtin will still be here next season.

  25. OneManWolfpack says:

    I voted no. If guys like Biello and Heaps can get fired for poor performance of their team, why do we just keep making excuses for our manager? The whole reason, I believe people give Curtin the benefit of the doubt, is because he is a genuinely good guy, who is trying to get better. But we have endured multiple seasons now, where Curtin is still “learning on the job”. Someone above said something like – The Union’s whole philosophy is youth, academy, we don’t have the big money – Curtin doesn’t play youth. Curtin trots the same lineups out over and over. Curtin shows zero flexibility in formation and tactics. Enough. Get someone new.
    .
    And the logic of “well you better have someone good to replace him with…” is dumb. Should Bruce Arena stick around till we find the perfect guy? No. You do your research and you find the next best guy.
    .
    Upgrade the roster. Upgrade the manager. Upgrade the interest in this club. You are losing fans and STHs. And very few people are saying they aren’t renewing because “Lot A isn’t paved” or “the stadium is in Chester”. They aren’t renewing because this team sucks, nothing changes, and they are tired of it.
    .
    In MLS, you can be as good as you want to be. Just look at Chicago. The Union can challenge for MLS Cup next year, if they want to. It will cost them, so they won’t. But that is the reality of this salary capped league. They have to show us they want to at least be “playoff spot” worthy. I mean, that’s a low bar, but it’s still better than what we got this year.

    • Totally agree. I flat out told the guy who called me to ask if I wanted season tickets that I wouldn’t even consider it unless they showed they were serious about succeeding. Sticking with a cut-rate, second-tier manager certainly doesn’t help. Given the prescribed goals of the Union, and the structure of the league, hiring the best coach MLS money can buy is the best way to succeed if you’re the Union. And Curtain is FAR off from that.

  26. John Harris says:

    [ ] Philly fans are too complacent (all sports). Good organizations wouldn’t even have a debate with these results. Can you imagine the Yankees, Celtics, Canadiens having this debate. Perhaps there are other problems…. fix them all.
    .
    [ ] Playing the same line up after elimination was Curtin just trying to save his job by getting more points than the prior season, I suspect. That’s disloyal to the (at least) started program of you development.
    .
    [ ] The dog houses. My gosh, put Rosenberry back on the field. He simply could not have been that bad in practice. If he is, given what we see, then at least some of the problem is with the coach. This isn’t the 70’s with Bobby Knight or your high school football coach… these are pro athletes.
    .
    [ ] The players, as a group, were not super talented, I get that. But I actually thought this team under achieved.
    .
    [ ] Curtin really only played for draws on the road in my opinion. I want a coach that is more aspirational than that.
    .
    [ ] Routinely lost the second half. What does that say? Other coach won.
    .
    [ ] He lost the locker room. Seems clear to me.
    .
    [ ] He’s lost the fan base.
    .
    [ ] Nogiera, at least and perhaps Barnetta, leaving was a knock against Curtin I suspect.
    .
    [ ] Coaches do make a difference. We all can name good coaches and failures in various sports.
    .
    [ ] If I have to choose between 2 legitimate DP signings and canning Curtin, I choose the DPs. I admit that. (Note: should be 3 given that Bedoya will be TAM next year).
    .
    [ ] Lack of development of young players… all you need for this.
    .
    [ ] Having a dynamic coach would be a plus factor in player recruitment.
    .
    [ ] All that said, I suspect that the 4-2-3-1 was put upon him by ES.
    .
    [ ] All that said, we’re still stuck with Sugarman.
    .

    • Rosenberry wasn’t that great on the field either.

      • He went from ligit player of the year candidate in 2016 to me invisible 2017.

      • Rosenberry went from legit ROOKIE of the year for the first half of last year to terrible this year. I do think the situation should have been handled differently by all parties involved.
        .
        Blaming Nogueria and Barnetta on Curtin is assumptions that you have nothing to back with other than you assigning blame to someone you already decided you don’t like. There is plenty to criticize, lets not go over the top.

  27. I would ditch Curtin in a second if we could get Chelis to return to the MLS.
    love that guy.

  28. The situation with Rosenberry alone is enough to prove he can not develop young players.

    The rest of his shortcomings aside if that’s how Ernie plans to build a team, it won’t get done with Jim at the helm.

  29. Sorry, but this is a bottom 3 team in the MLS from a talent perspective. Only Colorado and arguably DC United have worse talent. Go up and down the East and look at the attacking options on NON-PLAYOFF teams:

    Montreal – Piatti, Dzemaili, Jackson-Hamel
    New England – Agudelo, Feilhaber, Kamara, Nguyen, Fagundez
    Orlando – Kaka, Larin, Rivas, Dwyer, Barnes
    DC United – Acosta, Arriola, Sam, Nyarko
    Union – Sapong, Fafa, Ilsihno, Pontius

    Back lines? Union have one of the weakest in the league. And as great of a passer and conductor that Haris is, defense isn’t his strength.

    Yet the Union finished 11 out of 22 in goal differential (+3), with an improvement of +6 goals from the year before.

    Formation inflexibility, unwillingness to sub, didn’t play the young guys? Anyone happen to catch how the team performed when Keegan and Yaro played? Oh, but we forget that Jack Elliot developed under Curtin…let’s just talk about how none of the guys from last year progressed (maybe they have some responsibility in that too?). Unwillingness to sub or change the lineup…hmmm, how was Jay Simpson when he played for CJ? How about Fabian Herbers? Oh wait, he was hurt. What about Giliano? Alberg…anyone seem him run yet this year?

    You don’t change for change’s sake. This is not a big $$ spending team…you need to build 1 year at a time, create the culture, continue to improve. Points didn’t work out this year because the East took a big step forward. It’s up to the Union to improve again next year, hit on their DP signings, and go from there. But to fire Curtin? Moronic is an understatement.

  30. I voted no for all the above reasons mentioned and many more. As a coach, Jim fails by every conceivable metric, and I think that’s an indictment of more than just him, but this organization which has time and again shown that they are more interested in “improving the fan experience” than improving the on field product… but that’s for another time.

    When I ask myself if someone is a good manager, I don’t ask myself if they’re likeable (which Jim is), they’re good at teaching skills (which, from what I’ve heard, Jim is), or if they are good with the media (again, Jim). I ask myself if they show up on game day with a tactical plan for each team that they play, if they get the most out of their players, and if they can adapt their team at half-time with a brand new gameplan based around the first 45 minutes.

    Curtain fails in all these areas as evidenced by the regression of his best performers from last year, the lack of a gameplan in every away match this season, and the fact that the Union are a god-awful second half team in ever manner possible. Closing out a game has EVERYTHING to do with the coach. Say it with me: Game Management.

    It’s literally the job of the MANAGER to encourage and instruct his team on how to close out games. Sometimes a performance drops and you’ll lose the occasional game in the final few minutes, but it shouldn’t be a pattern such as it is. This is a systemic problem. And in my opinion, it stems from the coach.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love Sapong’s efforts on defense, but so help me, if I see the Union drop all 11 men behind the ball with 15 minutes left in a match one more time I’m going to spare myself the agony and just turn the TV off. Coaches coach. Managers manage. Curtain should have stayed as the assistant (who does more of the coaching anyway) and they should have brought in a real manager. Without Sugarman putting the money out there, you need to rely on your coach and your GM to get it done, and despite a couple inspired signings the past two seasons, the Curtain experiment is over, and it’s a pretty substantial failure.

    Love,
    An Ardent Union Supporter

  31. For the yes-ers, these cold hard facts:

    *Winning only 10 of his last 39 games;
    *2nd longest winless streak in MLS history;
    *Blown 2nd half lead after blown 2nd half lead after blown 2nd half lead;
    *7 road wins in last 3 years.

    And take that dead weight Stewart with him.

  32. ALBERT CONSALVI says:

    young players under Curtin do not progress they digress.The only players that succeed under Curtin are those that come onto the team as successful veterans. Virtually every young player has a better start than finish in their first year; their second year is worse. If he can’t coach up defenders, what can he do? the
    record suggests; not much.

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