Union

Union shed interim tag, name Jim Curtin manager

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Union shed interim tag, name Jim Curtin manager

The agreement was reached, the papers were signed and the manager was announced.

At Chickie’s and Pete's South Philly on Friday, the Union officially removed the interim tag and presented Philadelphia native Jim Curtin as the club’s third manager.

“The title changes with me but the message is the same — I’m here to win,” Curtin said. “I have to push this team forward in that regard. I’m here to win and get this team back in the playoffs where we belong.”

After an exhaustive search for a high-profile bench boss, Union CEO & operating partner Nick Sakiewicz, who said he received over 200 inquiries, couldn't ignore Curtin’s success with the Union.

“I said at that time that we would go on an extensive search for our first-team coach,” Sakiewicz said. “I asked Jim Curtin to take over as interim coach and caretaker of the team. And boy did he take care of the team — 17 games unbeaten in 23. He did a great job.”

Sakiewicz continued praising his new manager.

“Jim is the perfect fit to lead our first team because he worked through our system, he understands our great fans, partners and community, and shares our burning passion to deliver a winning product on the field,” Sakiewicz said. “He’s played in the league and knows what it takes to be successful in Major League Soccer. Jim has proven he’s a winner as a player and coach.”

Considered a temporary bandage following the firing of John Hackworth midway through the 2014 season, the 35-year-old Curtin led the Union to a 10-6-7 record and Open Cup final, which the Union lost in a tightly battled contest with the Seattle Sounders.

But despite the Open Cup loss and missing the postseason, the rookie manager received enough of a response from his players on the field to claim the head coaching position.

“For the fans that will question a 35-year-old, a young coach, that’s natural, it’s normal,” Curtin said. “I ask you to give me an offseason, a full offseason, and see what we can come up with. I promise you we’re going to work to bring in great players and improve the roster that’s already very strong.”

A center back in his playing days, playing nine years in MLS between the Chicago Fire and Chivas USA, Curtin’s thumbprint on the Union will be an emphasis on defense and quality defenders.

“We’ll build with a strong defense,” he said. “Someone needs to stop the David Villas and Kakas that are coming in. We’re not going to be the club that spends 70 million dollars on three different [designated players], that will not be us. We’re going to build from the back. We’re going to add speed and we’re going to get bigger, stronger and faster.”

Although Curtin said he intends to add speed in order to open up plays for guys like Vincent Nogueira and Cristian Maidana, the club’s style of play is still up in the air.

“Until you have success and championships as a team, you can’t claim a style,” he said. “I believe in ideas and principles in a league that’s moving forward right now, and ways to attack that.”

On-field plans aside, Curtin will work to instill a team culture based on honesty, respect and accountability — a reflection of their coach and the city he’s from.

“More so than any city, more than L.A., more than Chicago, more than New York, your reputation in this town is earned every day, you have to earn your respect and you earn your right to play,” he said. “It’s honest, it’s real, and I plan on operating transparently.”

Union's season ends with loss to NYCFC in MLS knockout round

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Union's season ends with loss to NYCFC in MLS knockout round

BOX SCORE

After suffering a lopsided defeat to NYCFC in the season finale at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, the Union marched back up to the Bronx on Wednesday night and did it again, falling, 3-1, in the knockout round of the 2018 MLS Playoffs to end their season.

• It was the fourth playoff match in franchise history for the Union and also their fourth loss. The club has yet to win a playoff game in its nine-year history. NYCFC moves on to face Atlanta United in a home-and-home aggregate series. 

• Union manager Jim Curtin put his fingerprint on the playoff match by slotting Alejandro Bedoya in at his natural right attacking midfield side, while tapping veteran Warren Creavalle to break up the middle of the field next to Haris Medunjanin. 

• It was a creative idea that ultimately failed to impact the match. Creavalle was pulled for Ilsinho at the half as the Union pushed for a more sustained offense. It took a while but paid off in the 83rd minute, when Ilsinho found Burke for the cross and tap-in goal to make it 3-1. 

• Before that, though, off a Mark McKenzie turnover in the 10th minute, NYCFC opened the scoring on a beautiful play. A Maxi Moralez pass found Ismael Tajouri-Shradi for the half bounce rocket to beat Andre Blake and claim the 1-0 NYCFC lead. David Villa doubled the NYCFC lead in the 26th minute. 

• The Union appeared to gain traction late in the first half when Bedoya was de-cleated in the box. It should have been a penalty kick but somehow went uncalled. It was that kind of night. The Union finished the first half with no shots on goal and just two in the second. 

• It didn’t get much better in the second half. As the Union pressed, Moralez chipped Blake on a fast break for the 3-0 lead. The Union were thoroughly outclassed all match long and especially struggled to generate offensive chances.

• The sting of defeat in important matches is a familiar one for the Union, who have lost four playoff matches and three U.S. Open Cup finals in the club’s history. Wednesday wasn’t even the most painful of the season, as the Union were crushed in Houston against the non-playoff Dynamo, 3-0, in the Open Cup finals back in September.

• But despite the disappointment, it was still a record season for the 2018 Union, who claimed the franchise record in total points, wins and road wins. Midfielder Borek Dockal took the MLS assist crown and young defenders McKenzie and Auston Trusty made names for themselves. Things have been worse for the Union.

Union lose at NYFC in regular season finale with playoff seeding on line

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USA Today Images

Union lose at NYFC in regular season finale with playoff seeding on line

BOX SCORE 

NEW YORK — David Villa scored his 14th goal of the season and New York City FC beat the Philadelphia Union 3-1 on Sunday to clinch the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference.

NYCFC (16-10-8) won for just the second time in its last 10 matches, with five loses, averaging just 0.9 goals per game. Philadelphia (15-14-5) has lost five of its nine matches against NYCFC.

Either team could have secured the top-three seed with a victory.

NYCFC had a 2-0 lead in the opening 10 minutes on Maxime Chanot's first goal of the season and Auston Trusty's own goal. Villa made it 3-1 in the 34th.

Cory Burke pulled Philadelphia within 2-1 in the 14th. C.J. Sapong was fouled inside the penalty area in the 59th, but NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson denied Fafa Picault's penalty shot, diving to his right to block the low attempt.