Philadelphia Union Head Coach Jim Curtin was rewarded with a two-year contract extension on Wednesday, so he and Sporting Director Ernst Tanner spoke to the media about what it means to him and the future of the club, as well as discussing Sunday’s game against Atlanta United. Here are our Founders Brewing Co. Pressing Points.
Jim Curtin’s New Contract
Curtin agreed to a new multiyear contract extension which will keep him in his hometown for the next few seasons. The new deal marks the third contract that Tanner has given to his head coach since his arrival to the Union in October 2018.
“It shows, in a way, how satisfied we are with his work,” Tanner said. “The success speaks for itself. We won the Supporters Shield with him, we are one of the leading clubs in player development, and we were able to sell players. We fulfilled, really, everything in the past two-and-a-half or three years. It was just logic to take this step. I’m happy, proud, and looking to a bright future with him and the Philadelphia Union."
Curtin thanked the ownership group, his coaching staff, Technical Director Chris Albright, and Tanner for their belief in him, as well as thanking Tanner for staying with the Union while European teams tried to recruit him during the offseason.
In his time as the Head Coach of the Union, Curtin led the team to its first trophy—the 2020 Supporters Shield—three US Open Cup finals, and four playoff berths, as well as winning the Sigi Schmidt MLS Coach of the Year award in 2020. Curtin cited his success with the Union academy team in the 2012 Generation Adidas Cup as a catalyst for his success in MLS.
“I wouldn’t give up any of it,” Curtin said of his climb from academy coach to first-team head coach. “Now we’re in a position where we have some stability. We are a very strong team in the league. But the second you get comfortable in this sport, the second you get knocked back down to reality so we recognize there’s a lot of work to be done.”
In terms of the team’s goals for the future with Curtin, Tanner says that short-term success is winning Sunday’s game against Atlanta United, and then going for another trophy as the new faces acclimate to the team.
Daniel Gazdag’s Injury
New signing Daniel Gazdag was released from Hungary’s Euro 2020 squad on Wednesday after not making the gameday squad for Hungary’s 3-0 loss to Portugal on Tuesday. Curtin revealed the reason, which is that Gazdag picked up a knock to his knee in training.
“Nothing shows up [on the MRIs received from Hungary],” Curtin said. “It was just a matter of communicating with Daniel. He just described it as discomfort, and as we all know in that competition, if you’re not 100%, it’s tough to go out there against Portugal, Germany, or France.”
Curtin said that Gazdag will likely return to Philadelphia within a week and that the injury is not a major one, but he will not play on Sunday in Atlanta in order to aid the recovery process.
“I really feel for him,” Curtin said. “He’s devastated that he didn’t get the opportunity to play in front of his home fans in the biggest competition that there is outside of the World Cup.”
Tanner added: “It’s probably an irritation. Don’t forget that he’s coming out of a full season, and when they usually do preparations for the national teams and big events like the European Championships, they really load the players. So I think it’s some kind of overload in his knee because structurally, the MRI doesn’t show any injury.”
Midfielder Jose ‘El Brujo’ Martinez made his debut for the Venezuela national team this past weekend in a 3-0 Copa America loss to Brazil while Daniel Gazdag trained for the Euros with Hungary before his injury. In addition, Leon Flach has entered the conversation for a spot with the United States Men’s National Team.
It’s safe to say that the Union have legitimate international recognition.
“First and foremost, [being called up to the national team] is a big honor for the boys and for our club, as well,” Tanner said. “It just shows that there was plenty of development with them. They were not close to their national teams before they came to us, and now they play an important role, especially in terms of how Martinez was playing. It always comes back to the place where they are currently playing and getting their development, in particular with the young players.”
In addition to the aforementioned players, the likes of Andre Blake and Cory Burke developed with the Union into regulars for the Jamaica national team, while ex-Union players like homegrowns Mark McKenzie and Brenden Aaronson became regulars with the USMNT thanks to their development under Curtin and Tanner.
“You have seen in the past that we’ve been doing an extraordinary job,” Tanner said. “It speaks for us, it speaks for the club, it speaks for the players, and basically, it makes us a lot more attractive.”