Playoffs are in sight under interim manager Jim Curtin and Philadelphia Union technical staff

Union technical staff steadily righting ship under Jim Curtin

Curtin after a win

Photo Credit: 
Greg Carroccio

He’s on a roll now.

And for Union interim manager Jim Curtin it’s exactly where he hoped he’d have this franchise when he took over the reins a month prior.

Under Curtin, the Union has compiled a 5-1-2 record in all competitions. The team is just one game away from the finals of the U.S. Open Cup and is riding high off an emphatic 3-1 victory over 1-95 rival the New York Red Bulls in a prime time nationally televised tilt on ESPN. Three days later, Curtin’s club battled to a 1-1 draw against Chicago to complete a three-game in eight day run of matches.

Since taking the job, Curtin, a local product from Oreland, Pa. who was an All-America at nearby Villanova University has managed to take a collective of players and turn them into a playoff contender. Following the draw against the Fire, Curtin and Co. moved back in to playoff contention, locked in a three-way tie on points for the fifth and final spot in the East. And with 13 MLS matches to go – eight of which are at home – there is still time for the club to secure its spot.

“We are in a really good place right now,” Curtin said. “We are finding goals and putting ourselves in good spots to pull points out of these matches now, which is key if we are looking to lock up another playoff appearance. It’s not going to be easy, we don’t have many favorable games down the stretch, but it’s important for this club to know that we are no stranger to tough games and in quite a few of them, we’ve come out on top."

Before the final third of the Major League Soccer season kicks off, the Union will have a break off from MLS play this week, but not from soccer action. On Friday night, the club hosts English Premier League side Crystal Palace FC at PPL Park (7 p.m., purchase tickets), a team that is mid-table of the EPL standings, but head to the States for a U.S. tour after dispatching some major names to remain in England’s top flight.

For Curtin, who already has wins in both League and Open Cup matches, he’ll be looking for his first win as manager against an exhibition opponent.

It’s no secret that the Union is currently undergoing a mass search to find its manager of the future. But Curtin has made it tough for his name to not remain in the hat as he continues to pull this club from the dregs and back into MLS limelight.

“Obviously you want to be the head coach, I’m not going to say I want to sit here and [have management] give the role to somebody else,” Curtin said recently.  “But the good thing is I’m part of the process, there is no secrets and to be honest, I know a lot of the guys that are coming in to interview…I’m fine with the process and like I told [Union CEO and operating partner] Nick [Sakiewicz], I don’t care whether I’m in fourth command or third command I just want to win in this city. “That’s the only thing that I really care about.

Curtin added:

“People might think I’m full of it but that’s honestly the way I feel about it.”

What do you think of the job Curtin is doing so far? Leave a comment below.

Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com