Traditionally, Philadelphia Union Head Coach Jim Curtin isn’t one who likes to single out players to the media. Last week when Curtin was asked who had stood out in training, he spoke highly of Jack de Vries but halfway through his conversation caught himself.
“I don’t want to be overhyping him because his head is going to get big, because I’ve talked to him for too long in this press conference but he is a kid that I’m proud of the work he’s done during quarantine.
“But now it’s time to do it in a game.”
The games will come soon as the MLS Is Back Tournament in Orlando ramps up in July. Until then, the Union’s latest homegrown player has taken to honing his craft even more. That work ethic and effort now has the 18-year-old in line for his first MLS minutes.
“I singled Jack out last week and sometimes I worry about singling a guy out because they could hear it and think they’ve accomplished something,” Curtin said Wednesday afternoon. “Jack has done the opposite; he’s kept pushing and working harder in training and he’s in line to get his debut in Orlando. Did I want that debut to be in front of 20,000 people at Subaru Park? Yes, but that time will have to wait.”
An appearance in Florida would be the culmination of quite the journey for a homegrown whose only professional minutes so far came in Philadelphia Union II’s season opening contest against Loudoun United on March 7th. Despite the lack of experience, Curtin pointed to a player that knows what to do when it’s time to attack.
“Offensively, I can say that Jack with the ball at his feet running at a defender, his age and inexperience go out the window because he does things that that are really, really impressive,” Curtin said. “In transition when he gets 1-on-1 against guys with his speed and the way he finishes and shoots, the sky is the limit.”
With three games in the Florida heat and humidity in a 10-day span, Curtin said that the weather will favor youth, which is prevalent on the Union’s side. With MLS implementing five substitutions for the tournament, de Vries’ positional flexibility as both a midfielder and forward is an added plus.
“He has the tools to do either and we have flexibility in our setup. Jack is a soccer player and you can put him at a bunch of different spots on the field,” Curtin said. “But as close to goal is where I’d prefer if I’m honest.”
Philadelphia Union’s play in the MLS is Back Tournament kicks off against NYCFC on Thursday, July 9th. Kick off from the ESPN Wide World of Sports is set for 9 a.m. and will be broadcast nationally on ESPN and ESPN Deportes.