By Ed Benkin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Jim Curtin has watched the Philadelphia Union struggle through the early part of the season. The former assistant will get his chance to turn the season around.
Curtin was promoted to Interim Team Manager on Monday after the firing of John Hackworth. The former MLS standout in Chicago had served as an assistant under Hackworth, and believes the Union have the potential for a strong second half.
“A bunch of very good players have had poor first halves of the season,” said Curtin. “We have 18 games left. That’s the good news. We have 18 games to get this ship right and we have the U.S. Open Cup which we will take very seriously. This club needs a trophy.”
The Union enter the M.L.S. World Cup break with a record of 3-7-6. Their next league game will be on June 28th, but Curtin will get a chance to see his team on the field for their U.S. Open Cup game against Harrisburg City on June 17th. The break in the schedule will give the players a chance to settle into Curtin’s system.
“That’s a huge advantage for me,” Curtin said. “This is the first time I’ve been a head coach. The list of responsibilities grow. The phone’s ringing a lot more. There’s part of me that wishes we could get right into training, but it’s an advantage. We can ease into it.”
The Union entered the season with high expectations, but would miss the playoffs if the season ended today. Union CEO and Operating Partner Nick Sakiewicz made it clear who was to blame for the club’s disappointing start.
“The last time I made a coaching change it wasn’t on the players,” said Sakiewicz. “It was on the management that time. This time, it’s 80% on the players. Coaches are always responsible, but it goes back to a word that Jim used, which is accountability.”
Curtin grew up in the Philadelphia area and played his college soccer at Villanova. He is well aware of the passion of Philadelphia sports fans and has lived and died with many of the city’s best and worst sports moments.
“I’m a Philly fan as well,” Curtin said. “My wedding revolved around 4th and 26 with Freddie Mitchell. I was at the Matt Stairs homerun game in L.A. and I barely got out of Dodger Stadium alive, so I know the ups and the downs. I know the passion the fans have and the emotion that they have. The thing that they want is winning.”
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