Ahead of his team’s US Open Cup match against New York Red Bulls, and only hours after the announcement that the US would host the 2026 World Cup along with Mexico and Canada, Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin spoke to the media. Here are some key takeaways.
Philly is a soccer town
Some of the first organized soccer in the United States was played in Philadelphia, as well as the first college match. Curtin discussed how big it would be for the city and its young population to be able to see great international squads play live in 2026. “There’s nothing quite like seeing a World Cup match live,” the coach said. “The sport has grown at a rate I never thought it would, to be honest, in this country. Whether it be our league, just the fact that you turn on [the TV] on a Saturday morning and it’s three English league games followed by three MLS games.
“Specifically to Philadelphia, this is a soccer town,” he continued. “It’s tough to predict what 2026 will look like in Philadelphia. But the thought that a team could be using this campus down here as their home base… it’s a really cool thing to envision.
“It’s exciting times,” Curtin said with a wry smile. “Earnie [Stewart]’s already qualified us for a World Cup.”
We’ll always have Haris… at least for this weekend
Haris Medunjanin’s suspension remains highly likely but still of an undetermined length. The Bosnian was extremely upset after Sorin Stoica awarded Ale Bedoya a second yellow card in Atlanta and, according to Bedoya, made false accusations about what the Union captain said on the field. Medunjanin was subsequently handed his own walking papers but the MLS disciplinary committee has yet to announce how long the Union will be missing their key distributor.
“We have an idea of what the suspension’s going to look like,” Curtin said Wednesday. “He’ll be a part of [the US Open Cup match] Saturday, which is most important.
“And while we’re on the subject, I think it’s important to stress just how good Haris is,” he continued. “I think sometimes it gets lost because the way he does it is so professional.
“He’ll be missed, for sure. He was missed last game.”
Illness and injuries
Finally, Curtin announced that Josh Yaro is back in concussion protocol after colliding heads with Louisville FC’s Cameron Lancaster while playing for Bethlehem Steel over the weekend. “You guys have heard me say, poor kid can’t catch a break,” Curtin lamented.
Addressing CJ Sapong’s absence from practice the past two days, the Union coach said his striker was simply sick. “Just illness,” Curtin said. “He’s been sick the past two days. Should be fine for Saturday, though.”