Press Conference

Union end of season presser: Curtin stays, Pontius leaving, more

Philadelphia Union Sporting Director Earnie Stewart and Head Coach Jim Curtin held a press conference today in which it was confirmed the Curtin will stay in his role in 2018 as the club builds on the foundation laid over the past two seasons.

The theme was development: Stewart stressed that Curtin’s ability lead the team out of their season-opening slump and put them in position to compete for a playoff spot is just one indicator that changing leadership would be a poor decision. He came prepared with a list of Curtin’s accomplishments (e.g., most wins as Union head coach, most wins in Talen Energy Stadium history, two US Open Cup finals) and indicated that all of Curtin’s backroom staff except goalkeeping coach Oka Nikolov are expected to return.

Stewart also discussed the reasons behind Philly’s decisions to pick up and decline player contracts. Chris Pontius, Stewart said, will test free agency. Additionally, the club will attempt to bring back Fabian Herbers and Fabinho if the right contract can be put together, but they will not resign Oguchi Onyewu.

When questioned about the lack of a No. 10, Curtin and Stewart made clear that, with Roland Alberg leaving, that may be an area the Union look to bring in competition. Ilsinho’s option was not picked up, but the club remains high on the Brazilian and will look into retaining him going forward. Stewart pointed to Tranquillo Barnetta as the type of attacking midfielder the club still believed would thrive in their system.

Finally, Stewart emphasized that the Union added pieces mostly from the bottom and the side in 2017, and not from the top. Noting that positions like left center back are incredibly difficult to fill, Stewart said the team will explore options there but retain, well, trust in homegrown defender Auston Trusty as a player with all the tools to fill that role in the future. Curtin also added that Keegan Rosenberry’s struggles in 2017 should not define him as a player, and that the club still believed he has the potential to develop into a strong option at right back.

As of today, the Union’s roster shakes out like this:

Goalkeepers (3): Andre Blake, John McCarthy, Jake McGuire

Defenders (6): Jack Elliott, Raymon Gaddis, Richie Marquez, Keegan Rosenberry, Auston Trusty, Josh Yaro

Midfielders (8): Alejandro Bedoya, Warren Creavalle, Marcus Epps, Anthony Fontana (as of 1/1/18), Derrick Jones, Haris Medunjanin, Adam Najem, Fafa Picault

Forwards (2): CJ Sapong, Jay Simpson


  1. ” Stewart stressed that Curtin’s ability lead the team out of their season-opening slump”

    Uhhhh, but wasn’t he the one who led us INTO that slump 🙁

    • He forgot the end of season slump from the previous season that Curtin lead them into. But facts, pfft, who needs em.

      • We have been out of the playoff hunt for months. I know mathematically we were not eliminated, but realistically done. That statement is ridiculous

    • I feel like they think everyone listening (those who are left) are clueless.

  2. I know Sugarman is public enemy #1, but I can’t decide if #2 is Curtin or Stewart at this point.

    • Still Curtin – we will achieve nothing while he is still in charge.
      I’ll reserve judgement on Ernie until May. Our starting roster will make or break him.

    • It’s Stewart for now. He kneecapped our last season such that no one could’ve gotten more than a 6th place finish. But he’ll get a chance to redeem himself, starting today. And so will Curtin, it seems.

      • Agreed. Curtain’s inflexibility is not helping the situation, but if Earnie had used the Jay Simpson money on a No. 10, we might still be playing right now.

  3. Atomic Spartan says:

    When were we EVER in position to make a run at playoffs? What has ES been smoking?
    No margin of error this off-season Earnie. You better bring loaded dice with you because this crapshoot is gonna be unforgiving.
    Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Will we be fooled again?

  4. Who knew that such important positions like LCB are hard to fill? I know it’s all GM speak but we better be bringing in at least 2 legit offensive starters this year (winger and #10) or we will be the same as last year.

    • What ever happened to Ayuk? Wasn’t he one of Curtin’s “projects?” And then he gets loaned out. I could see a transfer for him coming.

  5. Wonder what’s up that they don’t want to see Gooch back. Old age? Disposition? ???

    • He probably wants a big raise and playing time.
      Judging by the press conference they weren’t likely to give him either.

  6. With this group it should be very easy to choose a game day 18. All you need to do is leave one of the keepers out. Hopefully no one gets hurt or sick. At least national team duty won’t be an issue next June.

  7. santo bevacqua says:

    The coach is not the problem, Stewart and staff have to select a quality 10 player that fits the development of the young team……the staff should have scouted candidates already and someone in the level or higher as Barnetta is required to anchor the defense and the attack. Higuain of the crew would be ideal. Stewart this is valuable advice please heed it.

    • The coach is absolutely a problem, not the only one for sure but certainly a very big one.

      How much squad rotation have we ever seen?
      How well have the youngsters come along on his watch?
      How well has the team performed during his tenure?

  8. Jerome soccer man says:

    cheap, cheap. cheap ass organization . same old shit different year and again

    • santo bevacqua says:

      They better open up the wallet and get some quality to complement the youth………I am a believer in relegation the faster this is implemented the faster we will see quality improvement.

  9. Sounds like they are working on trying to bring back Ilsinho, Herbers, and Fabinho. Suddenly the major roster turnover isn’t looking so major. That said, all those players are fine as long as they are counted on as being subs at best and not paid too much.

  10. “…and indicated that all of Curtin’s backroom staff except goalkeeping coach Oka Nikolov are expected to return.”

    So the rumors of Sorber leaving are untrue?

  11. I would’ve Re-Dooped with a new manager. I would’ve felt I’d been Re-Duped had I sent in money for this.
    All I asked for, well beside s a team committed to winning, an owner committed to spending, tactical flexibility,etc etc, was to fix the glitch and let Curtin walk. A list of all his accomplishments pretty much start and end with “not yet been fired”.

    • totally hear you. this is black mark #1 on a bad offseason.
      now i read sorber sticking around… so more of the same, just 10 new faces on the pitch next season, aimlessly running around.

  12. Failure is rewarded. Bottom line. I hope the Union crash and burn so badly next year that Curtin AND Stewart are on the unemployment line. Does any team in any pro sport in this country reward such badness? /
    Besides the Union, that is.
    C’mon, Austin, can’t you take this dumpster fire of a side (Chivas USA East) instead of the Crew?

  13. Nothing is changing. Waiting for the ‘kids’, who may or may not ever play. Union will spend the MLS money, and I’m sure they will spend every dollar of GAM and TAM.

    But so will every other club. The difference is the clubs that want to win — TFC, Atlanta, the New Yorks — will spend some of their own money on DPs. Those clubs will spend $$ on a DP at the 9 or 10. The allocation money will be used to fill in another offensive spot, or on a #8. Union ceiling going forward is 5th in the East, based solely on the fact that they will not spend enough to ever to catch the four teams above.

    The Union will spend the bare minimum until the expansion cycle is over, and the ROI meets the owner’s target, at which point he will sell. Best case – new owner is a local who loves the sport, has deep pockets and wants to bring a winner to Philly. Worst case, you get Crew 2.0 and the Arch Allies supporter group in St. Louis welcome Technical Director Earnie Stewart to the Gateway City.

  14. Quaker Shiker says:

    NOT HAPPY! I only needed one thing to change for me to believe in this clubs chances for next year. A NEW MANAGER. I re-dooped but now I might just quit.

  15. Reading Earnie’s comments about how this bad season wasn’t so bad makes me want to jab my thumbs into my eyes.

    • He speaks with a forked tongue. I don’t believe anything coming out of this organization. They say one thing and do the complete opposite.

  16. I have no faith in ES after this presser. He is out of his mind. This team is dumpster fire.

  17. el Pachyderm says:

    I read the full transcript and am reminded of a post I made after the final merciful whistle to this shit season…
    …do not accept the spin.
    It is all whip cream on shit.
    Beyond that…I’d like to know why those of you who sit in the press box and those among you who ask the manager questions after games and also visit this page have NEVER ONCE pressed the manager on his goal keeper’s inability to play the game with his feet. Never Once.
    You all think because the guy can jump tall buildings in a single bound and makes acrobatic save after acrobatic save he is above this line of questioning and it is FLAT POOR REPORTING. It is a significant issue FFS.

    • Section 114 (Former) says:

      There was nothing about yesterday that causes me any angst (except that Simpson remains under contract — D’oh!).
      I’m really down on the owner, manager, front office, and team. But nothing yesterday changed that (either way). It’s not fair to bang them for yesterday — they are clearing the space.
      The question is what they do with the space. I expect that they will add two or three high quality offensive pieces, a starting left back, and the successor to Andre (I still don’t believe he returns). Doing it isn’t enough — they have to do so with top quality. Anything less, it’s more of the same.

      • Earnie stated that they wouldn’t be spending big money to bring in high quality offensive pieces. He actually stated that they cannot spend the money because ownership does not committ the same resources as teams that do like TFC, to summarize. He even added that they want to be team that refuses to spend money to build a foundation. The space that they freed up is not enough to become a real contender in this league, so the question is not “what will they do with the new cap room?” and should actually be “when will Sugarman sell this team?”. The sooner we find out when and if he plans to sell, the sooner the fans will know when to begin supporting again or if they should realistically start rooting for a new team. I am a diehard Philadelphia sports fan and through all the misery, this is the only team and owner that has ever made me question whether or not I ever want to support them again.

      • I read it that they are not willing to spend money until the foundation is in place and they know which players make it and which don’t so we spend it in the right spots. Now I think that makes some sense but they still gotta go out and get a starting quality #10, winger, and LB at least this off-season.

  18. I enjoy the comment board in general, but boy is it tiring to hear the same complaints about the coach, the GM, the ownership, and the spending. With all the soccer knowledge here it would be great to have hot stove conversations about WHO exactly could be the #10, or the LB. Some debate about their merits, upside, best return on $, etc. I wish I could be the change I wish to see in this world, but my futbol knowledge is limited to the U and some EPL.

    • Yes, it would be nice to talk about new players coming into the side. The problem is there’s very few people that have knowledge about 4th division sides in other countries. There’s no point in speculating about recognizable names because the owner is not going to spend money to get those players. So what we have to talk about is the crap owner, SD and coach.

    • PSP has become a bit toxic lately and I say this both as a paying Patron and as a guilty party

  19. Fair point. Let the gauntlet be thrown down. I’ll try to find and post some MLS potentials!

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