It’s been a couple of weeks since the Union’s season (and the Earnie Stewart era) came crashing down in a first-round playoff loss at the hands of New York City FC at Yankee Stadium. Now its time to look to the future, and the Union gave us a glimpse of that in their end-of-season press conference Monday afternoon.
The biggest news to come out of this is that Jim Curtin will return as head coach of the Philadelphia Union in 2019, as he and team agreed to terms on a one-year contract.
Tanner is also getting busy cleaning house. Today the club announced that they were not picking up contract options for Jake McGuire, Fabian Herbers, Joshua Yaro, Richie Marquez, Marcus Epps, Adam Najem, Jay Simpson, and Fabinho (although they did say they were re-negotiating a deal with Fabi). Some of these cuts were predictable, such as Simpson, Yaro, and Marquez. The biggest surprise of the bunch was Marcus Epps, who I thought played well when he got the chance.
The contracts for John McCarthy, Raymon Gaddis and Warren Creavalle have expired. Tanner said that McCarthy and Creavalle would like to look for a club that would give them more playing time, and I can’t blame them for that.
Probably the biggest potential loss will be Borek Dockal, who was on a one-year loan from Chinese Super League club Henan Jianye. Tanner revealed that Dockal told him that the Czech midfielder would prefer to return to Europe. I don’t think its likely we’ll see Dockal wearing the blue and gold again, which is shame as his play was one of the bright spots of this season.
It’s not all house cleaning. The club announced that they picked up the options for Jack Elliott, Ilsinho, Olivier Mbaizo, Keegan Rosenberry, Derrick Jones, Fafa Picault, and Cory Burke. The rest of the roster already had guaranteed contracts.
“Something totally different from what you have seen before.”
These words spoken by Tanner at the press conference must have been music to the ears of the frustrated Union fans out there. The Curtin haters out there might not be happy about the coach coming back, but they have to be happy to hear Tanner talk about how the team lacked “tactical flexibility” and a “Plan B”, which he wants to bring to the club. That includes different formations from the rigid 4-2-3-1 that former Sporting Director Earnie Stewart favored, including ones with two forwards. Evidently Tanner believes Curtin is capable of implementing this. That remains to be seen, but on a personal level I am happy for Curtin as he gets to continue to guide his hometown club.
The impression I got from this press conference is that Stewart tied Curtin’s hands, and Tanner is going to loosen that knot. Curtin followed up saying, “I’m excited by it and I think the fans will really like it. You will see an aggressiveness that he eluded to. You will see the idea of two forwards involved with our system, and just a little more flexibility overall in that scheme.” Ok, Jim, sounds good to me, get it done.