Philadelphia Union Sporting Director Ernst Tanner and Head Coach Jim Curtin sat together behind the podium inside the press conference room at Talen Energy Stadium Wednesday afternoon to announce a new multi-year contract extension for Curtin while Union remain atop the Eastern Conference table.\
“You may wonder why I’m sitting here next to Jim [Curtin],” said Sporting Director Ernst Tanner softly Wednesday afternoon during an impromptu gathering prior to Curtin’s routine press conference with the media.
“I don’t want to steal the show from [Curtin] but there is something to announce. I need to tell you that we are going to extend our head coach’s contract,” said Tanner. “I think Jim deserved this.”
And he most definitely is deserving of this contract extension. Think back to two seasons ago. The Union fanbase was hijacked by ‘doomsday doopers’ proclaiming a desire for not only a head coaching change but an entirely new ownership group. At the forefront of that criticism sat Curtin.
Curtin, a Philly area native and former Villanova soccer player before turning in a solid nine-year MLS career, is now guiding the Union through their best season in franchise history.
This is a story of perseverance and of a coach who never gave up on his players through both good times and some very dark days for the franchise.
“I don’t want this to sound like we’ve accomplished anything yet this year because there’s still a lot of work to do,” said Curtin during his opening statement. “I think the players have put a really good product on the field that the fans can be proud of.”
Curtin didn’t take long in turning the focus away from his news and back onto the team and the matches still to come. Perhaps Curtin understands the growing pains that the fanbase suffered through the last 5+ years. Perhaps he knows just how close he was to being let go from his hometown club.
But now, that’s all well in the past. Curtin has the Union flying on all cylinders as he preps the group for a west coast matchup this Saturday against Real Salt Lake.
The fifth-youngest coach in MLS, and one of America’s better young coaches, Curtin now no longer needs to worry about job security. After receiving just a small extension when Tanner arrived, Curtin needed to prove he is a truly deserving coach and one who has the skills needed to manage a roster that seems to turn over more often than it should from year to year.
“He has the right attitude,” said Tanner. “The way he’s guiding not only the team but his staff in addition… He’s open to everyone and he listens. We can discuss things openly. We are in constant communication which is not always seen at this professional level and it’s a good thing.”
Curtin was also quick to point the attention on his players as a reason for his success, because in all fairness, nobody expected Philadelphia to be this hot for so long this season.
“I owe a lot to the players, through good times and bad they’ve pushed themselves,” said Curtin. “I am very grateful for the opportunity to coach my hometown team.”
So far the details of the contract have not been publicly released. But the contract is a multi-year extension. Which for Curtin and most coaches is all that’s needed to know.
The Union travel west once more Saturday and will look to snag a result against a tough Western Conference opponent in Real Salt Lake.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports