Press Conference / Union

Youth will shine with FC Dallas coming to Philadelphia

Photo: Paul Rudderow

“When proud-pied April, dress’d in all his trim,/ Hath put a spirit of youth in every thing.”

No, this quote didn’t stem from Philadelphia Union manager Jim Curtin during his weekly press conference.

But the line from Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 98” is fitting as the Union’s first game of the month comes against FC Dallas this Saturday.

“[They’re will be] some very good young players on display,” Curtin told the group of reporters gathered at Talen Energy Stadium. “It’s a good advertisement for the league in terms of two clubs that are doing things with young homegrown players.”

FC Dallas will bring a lineup that features four such players— three of whom are teenagers— to Philadelphia. Two of those Homegrowns, No. 10 Paxton Pomykal and forward Jesus Ferreira, combined for three of Dallas’ four goals from their weekend road victory over Real Salt Lake. Pomykal, in particular, is drawing national praise and the attention of Curtin.

“Paxton is one of the key guys we’re scouting now and game planning for,” said the Union’s coach. “So, we’re trying to disrupt him and his ability to start their attack and go box-to-box.”

The 19-year-old midfielder from Lewisville, TX is at the forefront of the discussion surrounding young, American attacking talent. Pomykal has made three MLS Teams of the Week in just five weeks of action, and has been penciled into the starting lineup of the U.S. youth national teams.

But the Union have their own teenage attacking talent garnering praise.

Much of the local spotlight has shone on 18-year-old Brenden Aaronson who made his third consecutive start over the weekend. The Medford, NJ product shifted to the No. 8 with the return of the Union’s No. 10, Marco Fabián. The position switch, however, didn’t limit Aaronson’s success.

“Brenden Aaronson has been excellent.” His manager continued, “I thought he was one of the best players on the field versus FC Cincinnati.”

Pomykal vs. Aaronson will be the headline of Saturday’s match. It’s must watch television for neutrals seeking glimpses of future, And Curtin doesn’t disagree.

“It’s going to be a great game this weekend, and those are certainly two young players that get the U.S. excited about the future of where the game is moving.” said the manager. “The league’s getting a lot better, but so is the good young, American player. That’s something to be proud of.”

It’s easy to see this as just the start of two great careers that may flourish outside of their home nation.

“It’s important, I’ll speak for my own player, to put together a full season, and then do it again.” Curtin continued, “Then you can start to talk about greatness, moving on to Europe, and playing at the highest level. Certainly both of them have incredible starting points.”

While it’s easy to focus on Aaronson and Pomykal, the theme of youth permeates deeper than just those two. Dallas right back Reggie Cannon is one of the league’s best fullbacks regardless of age. Philadelphia’s back line, which hasn’t allowed a goal 200 minutes, is anchored by 20-year-old center back Auston Trusty.

“It’s great to see another club like FC Dallas that believes in putting young players on the field— and not just talking about it— but seeing them thrive out there,” said Curtin. “They have a several year head start on us in terms of our academy, but we’re two of the leaders in that area.”

Curtin’s tidbits
  • The similarities aren’t limited to the players or a philosophy. Curtin understands FC Dallas’ new manager Luchi Gonzalez’ journey to the sideline: “I can relate to the transition from academy coach to the first team coach.” Curtin continued, “It’s two entirely different things. He’s made it look easy.”
  • Forward David Accam is a man in form. “We have forwards that can go on streaks, and right now Accam is doing that,” said the coach. “When one goes cold, another always seems to get hot.”
  • Despite the injury scare for Accam, Curtin said the team is full go. That includes the return of forwards Sergio Santos and Kacper Przybylko. With Santos, the goal is to get him minutes in Bethlehem Steel’s match against Swope Park Rangers in Kansas City
  • With the arrival of midfielder Jamiro Monteiro and the impact of Aaronson, the Union have five choices for the four corners of the diamond: “Having good players is a good problem for a coach to have.”
  • On the former: “Jamiro is making it difficult because he’s certainly shown starter talent.”
  • Speaking of midfielders, it’s funny how the criticisms of midfielder Haris Medunjanin have quieted: “He was never, ever a concern in any way, shape, or form.” His manager continued, “He’s still the guy who makes us unique. Our attack starts deeper than most teams.”
  • The Union also have a battle at center back: “I think we have four of the best ones in our league.” Even though he’s been on the bench, “Mark [McKenzie] is still a great center back.”
  • Cool breakdown of  how Curtin and Accam adapted during the Cincinnati game: “He was kind of stuck with a center back up his back the entire time. At halftime we made an adjustment with the front triangle. “Curtin continued, “When there’s no pressure on the ball and we’re facing forward, the message was for them to get away. They might not necessarily get the ball, but they would drag a center back deeper which opens up space for our midfield.”


  1. el Pachyderm says:

    I’d like Jamiro to be a sub in this match and give The Kid an opportunity to show across from PPomykal.
    I’ve watched PP for a couple of years and the young man is very good.
    This is not the match to start Jamiro and bench Aaronson… so I hope Jim doesn’t do it.
    We’ll see what the manager does.

    • Can’t take the kid off. The decision has to be between Meunjanin and Monterio. Aaronson’s name should be written in pen on the lineup sheet unless he starts to falter.

      • I dont think u can b ready to say that. hes gonna have to get his rest and e will have his times to shine as well. its up to curtin to keep brendan improving and confident.

      • Dortmund did a good job easing Pulisic into their senior side two years ago by not riding him too hard too soon. MLS is a physical league, and I expect teams are going to start targeting him now that they know he’s not a flash in the pan. The kid is definitely the future, but I think the Pulisic method wouldn’t be a bad a approach for Aaronson. Besides, Monteiro is only here on a 4 month lease, so they don’t have a lot of time to run him out to see if they want to keep him.

      • HopkinsMD says:

        Good point, Union42.

  2. I will see your Sonnet 98 and raise you Henry IV: “Is it not strange that desire should so many years outlive performance?” The fans are given the opportunity to see the best that they could wish to see, as Aaronson, Pomykal and Ferreira show what the Academy system has led the league to develop. It will be interesting to see how many years from now we will be able to point to these guys and remember when they all were on the same field here. I wish them all luck from the other end of fifty years playing, watching, coaching and reffing.

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