The Union have one more contest, against the San Jose Earthquakes, before entering a game-less week. Head Coach Jim Curtin met with the media on Wednesday before the team departed for California.
Lionel Messi to MLS
On Wednesday, the churning rumors of Argentine soccer superstar Lionel Messi’s move to Major League Soccer were confirmed at last; the 35-year-old Argentina National Team captain has officially signed with Inter Miami CF, a team the Union will host on June 24.
Curtin took time to address the news at the start of his press conference before taking questions from reporters.
“Look, it's the biggest day in, probably, MLS history. Right? And it's the best player that the sport of soccer has ever had, that's my opinion, for what that's worth. But it's a big day for the league, no question about it. When you talk about the player, it speaks for itself. He's won everything everywhere he's been. It shows that our league is a very attractive one. There's no no problems recruiting the top players to come here,” Head Coach Jim Curtin said.
Messi’s reputation as one of the sport's most respected talents precedes his stateside arrival. He won’t be available for the Union’s June 24 contest against Miami, but Curtin anticipates his presence in the league will impact far more than what happens on the pitch.
“You're bringing the best player that our sport has ever had to our league. So it's a great thing. I think it's great for Apple, I think it's great for the league as a whole. It makes it harder on the Eastern Conference coaches, that's for sure, to prepare for him. It's something I can honestly say I never thought I'd be doing. But again, it's a great new challenge and I think it'll only be something that puts MLS in the spotlight more and more, not just in our country, but globally,” Curtin said.
Julián Carranza on the rise
As for the Union’s resident Argentine difference-maker, forward Julián Carranza had another outstanding performance in the team’s win against Montreal on Saturday. His game was highlighted by a brace in the team’s 3-0 win, but on Wednesday, Curtin spoke about how his defensive versatility sets him apart from the vast pool of skilled players in his position worldwide.
“I think Julián Carranza has really, really raised his level. I've told him many times now, there's a lot of players all over the world that can score goals. But what will jump off the page to a lot of scouts when they come to see him play is his work defensively pressing, fighting for every inch, being physical with strikers,” Curtin said.
Carranza compiled three recoveries, two interceptions and a tackle, winning more than half of the duels he contested, in addition to his two goals. Saturday was his fourth multi-goal game of the season and has him just one goal off the lead for MLS Golden Boot.
Boys Are Back in town
Jack McGlynn, Quinn Sullivan, and Brandan Craig rejoined the team in Chester after a stint away with the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team. They played in 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup, falling to Uruguay in the quarterfinals.
The trio was part of soccer history as the USA stands the only nation to reach the quarterfinals at the last four U-20 World Cups, though they didn’t make it past the round.
Despite the busy stretch of Union games, Curtin tuned in from the states to watch how his players fared against international competition.
“I thought over the first several games, they performed really, really well. Brandan Craig, I think stood out in the competition as a leader back there and as a centre back. I think we all know Brandan's ability to pass through the lines, and everyone's talked about, with the ball, with the ball, with the ball. But, he also defended really well in the competition, which was good,” Curtin said about 19-year-old Craig.
“Quinn had some minutes early on, and did well with them. Towards the end, maybe didn't get the minutes that he wanted, but still is a great player and a great attacking piece that we have and we get back now.”
Of the three, Curtin was most enamored by McGlynn’s performance.
“I knew the form Jack was in in our league and the way he was playing here, and he took that into the competition and really stood out in the games. His ability to control the tempo of the game, his left foot and the passing ability, you guys have heard me talk about forever,” Curtin said.
“Again, I said already, a lot of people that I respect a ton in the game that are coaching in Europe, I'll just say, asked a lot of questions about Jack and saw what he was about.”