Jim Curtin wants what every fan of this team wants.
The Philip F. Anschutz Trophy on a mantle inside the Union front office – and he knows the only way it could arrive is by winning an MLS Cup. A task he doesn’t feel is out of reach for this club – his hometown club – one he just officially became appointed to assist.
Curtin, 33, was named assistant coach of the Union Thursday and will join fellow assistants Brendan Burke and Rob Vartughian alongside boss John Hackworth this upcoming season. In addition, the club announced it extended Burke, 30, a contract extention to remain an assistant in addition to head coach of the Union's developmental affiliate, Reading United.
Curtin, the Oreland, Pa. native grew up on soccer in the Philadelphia region, playing for youth clubs in Glenside and Council Rock – the latter on the same team as current Union defender Chris Albright. From there it was All-America career as a defender at Villanova and a 10-year MLS stint, predominantly in Chicago (2001-08), where Curtin captured All-Star honors with the Fire in 2004. He played with Chivas USA in his final two seasons. Prior to joining the Union, Curtin worked in great detail with the club’s youth academy at YSC Sports in Wayne, serving as its director of curriculum development.
“This is Philadelphia man, these players have to have that mentality that you roll up your sleeves when things get tough,” said Curtin. “We are going to try to play a style that is fast paced and will have a lot of goal scoring that I think the fans will enjoy. This is a league with a lot of parity and there is a fine line between wins and losses. We are close, right now and just a player or two being looked at in the offseason to put us over the edge.”
And the caliber of player the ideal import should be?
“He’s experienced, he’s older and he’s going to be a voice in the locker room,” Curtin added.
Curtin impressed during his time with the Union juniors and academy players, so much that Hackworth invited him to help out with the first team, setting up the drills and running many facets of the training sessions and workout. It will be much of the same for Curtin, who will become integral in making sure it’s all done to Hackworth’s liking.
"We are excited to announce that Jim has officially joined our staff,” Hackworth said. “He has done an excellent job coaching in our Academy and at YSC the last three years. Jim's experience and knowledge of both MLS and the Philadelphia soccer market make him a great addition to our club. Also, being able to retain Brendan, who has been a key member of our staff the last two seasons, was equally as important. Brendan's work ethic, experience as a head coach and understanding of our team will continue to be an invaluable asset."Another positive Curtin brings to the table is his in-depth knowledge of how the league rules and regulations regarding players works. During his decade long playing career, Curtin served both as a player representative for Chicago on MLS players’ union affairs in addition to heading the players’ union four-man executive board.
Curtin believes Hackworth in moving the Union in the right direction, even if the last portion of the season didn’t dictate that. However, he believes that working under a player like Hackworth will improve not just the Union, but his coaching philosophies too.
“Working with John has been good, I have learned a lot in a very short time,” said Curtin. “He reminds me a lot of [former U.S. national team and Chicago Fire head coach] Bob Bradley, I think he’s in that coaching mindset of Bob Bradley, someone who I played for and had the highest respect for as a coach, but John has his own little twists and his own stamp on how to run a training session, which I like a lot.”
Expectations are high in 2013. Curtin knows that and says the training staff is well aware of it, too. It’s an offseason that will be filled with decisions that will shape this club, everyone hopes for the better.
Curtin is overjoyed to be along for what many hope promises to be a breakthrough season.
“I have wanted to be with this club in some capacity since I knew there was going to be a team in Philadelphia,” said Curtin. “I see a team of very talented young individuals…but they are a young group. I think adding some veteran leadership in the locker room will go a long way and we are strongly exploring that right now, bringing in a guy with credentials but exemplifying the toughness it takes to play here and help us win a championship.”