Philadelphia Union press clips: February 13


Curtin: Vitoria 'wants to win a trophy for this city'

(Ryan Bright,

When the Union inked Steven Vitoria on Monday, they got a 6-foot-5, sure-footed central defender on loan from Portuguese powerhouse, Benfica.

They also may have found the perfect fit.

“He’s intelligent, he’s respectful, he’s a professional,” said Union manager Jim Curtin. “He checked all the boxes for us. He’s communicated already with the guys. He fit in well with the group, having a good time at meals and getting to know everybody. He’s a humble kid that’s made it a point that he wants to win. He wants to win a trophy for this city.”

On Wednesday, the 28-year-old defender was officially introduced by the Union. Addressing the media for the first time, he expressed his excitement in his new club’s plan.

“The project that they presented to me was very attractive,” Vitoria said. “It’s a winning project and I’m very happy and excited to be part of that.

“Special thank you to Philly. I’m here and I’m happy about it.”

Vitoria, who played 30 minutes in a 1-0 pre-season loss to the Tampa Bay Rowdies, is a strong addition for the Union -- a team that is begging for experienced on-field leaders. Joining the Primeira League at 18, the Toronto-born player spent time with six clubs, earning the captaincy at Estoril before making his move to Benfica in 2013.

“At 6-5, he gives you a presence in the back line,” Curtin said. “He wins things in the air. He reads the game well. When he was younger, he actually played as a No. 10, so he has very good feet -- he’s comfortable on the ball. [He] can start an attack with his passing ability, so there’s a lot of qualities we liked, something to build a back line around.”

With that skill set it’s easy to see why the Union’s interest in Vitoria dates back to last summer. But with salary cap issues and a log-jam at defense, Curtin was unable to justify the deal. However, with Carlos Valdes being shipped to Nacional this off-season, the Union’s situation changed.

“He’s a player that we looked at last summer,” said Union technical director Chris Albright. “We had him in to look at the club. It was something we were discussing at the time. But at the time, we really just couldn’t fit it economically.”

But what sealed the deal was not the Union’s pursuit. It was Vitoria’s interest in the Union.

“I think he made it pretty clear he wanted to be in Philadelphia, Albright said. “I think that says something about the club that he chose us. He was always someone we had a strong interest in and we were glad we were able to pull it off.”