MLS- Philadelphia Union

Curtin, Meola, Harkes, Marsch among Union's head coach candidates


Photo by USA Today Sports Images


The Philadelphia Union are getting closer to identifying their next head coach, and their short list for the position holds quite a few interesting names.

Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz identified to MLSsoccer.com some of the candidates in contention to take the reigns of the club, including current interim head coach Jim Curtin, former Montreal Impact head coach Jesse Marsch and U.S. Men’s National Team legends Tony Meola and John Harkes.

Sakiewicz is open to both American and foreign coaches, but did not offer a timetable as to when a decision will be made because he and the club are currently focusing on the upcoming U.S. Open Cup final against the Seattle Sounders.

“I’m taking my time,” Sakiewicz told league’s website. “Jim’s doing a great job with what he’s been given. I’m very proud of the job he’s done. There’s no rush to do anything. We’re playing in our first championship final in three weeks, so I would say our efforts and focus is more on that than it is on the coaching search.”

The Union will play in the first final in club history when the host the Seattle Sounders on Sept. 16 at PPL Park. Curtin led Philadelphia to that milestone and has the Union on the brink of winning some silverware, but Sakiewicz stopped short of saying Curtin was the front-runner for the position when asked.

“Jim has a front-row seat on this one,” said Sakiewicz. “He’s doing everything he needs to do. He’s been with us since he was the U-18 coach at our academy. I would say there’s nothing Jim can do differently that would be in his favor. He’s already got a huge advantage because he’s been in our club for four years.”

Sakiewicz wants to see Curtin guide the Union to an Open Cup title and an MLS playoff berth, but stated that neither of those achievements would necessarily factor into his decision for a permanent coach.

The Union relieved John Hackworth of his head-coaching duties and appointed Curtin as the interim manager on June 10 after a slow start to the season. Since then, Philadelphia has moved to within a point of a postseason spot in the Eastern Conference.


Who do you think the Union should turn to as their permanent head coach? Would Curtin be a good choice, or should it depend on how he does in the Open Cup final and rest of the MLS regular season? Who would be the best choice out of Harkes, Meola and Marsch?

Share your thoughts below.

  • BFT

    Wait, John Harkes? Tony Meola? Seriously? I really don’t see how either of those guys, with little to no coaching experience whatsoever, could be an upgrade over Curtin at this point.


    • Josh D

      Harkes has been coaching youths for a number of years. MLS teams seem to like hiring young(ish) former MLS players. I can see it.


  • The Imperative Voice

    If they’re not going to take interim off Curtin they should go out and get a high quality proven coach, not hire guys who have similarly limited experience (Harkes, Meola) or middling results (Marsch). With the Union’s history, they should be gunning for a winner, not someone like Marsch who did a respectable job with the expansion Impact but didn’t actually have to win much to do it.


    • BFT

      Completely agree. They might as well just keep Curtin if those are the guys they’re going after. It seems completely insane to me that they would consider replacing Curtin with John friggin’ Harkes. If the Union win the Open Cup and/or make the playoffs, I think Curtin probably stays, but still, these are pretty underwhelming candidates.


  • Paul Lorinczi

    Curtain has done an impressive job. I agree with the comments above regarding the other candidates. It’s amazing what he is getting out of these players what Hackworth could not. Everyone seems to be contributing.


  • Rafavic

    Marsch would be the only candidate I’d be interested in and that’s only because he’s the most capable out of the candidates named. Curtin could win the US Open Cup and get in the playoffs and would still get booed if he’s named the coach. The FO is backing up my claim that they are just lazy. Go out and get us a real coach. He doesn’t need to be foreign, he just needs to take what we have and get more out of it that the other coaches and Curtin have to date.


  • Evan

    What ever happened to René Meulensteen being considered? He’s been seen with Sac and around the Union on a number of occasions in the past two months.

    Curtin’s doing well, but I don’t think the Union needs another interim coach promoted, it didn’t work out well the last time. If the job was really between the four of them, the search would already be over and, most likely, Curtin would have the job. I think René, or some other euro based coach is still being wooed.


  • PD

    Unless this is a smokescreen to cover up for a David Moyes like signing to come at a later date, this is an utter waste of time.


    • Joe from Philly

      I am with you. Curtin is more of the same. Like somebody said up above, the FO is lazy and I think Nick the Sack is the biggest example. Unfortunately he isn’t going anywhere because ownership is almost arrogantly uninvolved. As a STH with 6 seats, I’m growing tired of it.


      • Sam

        I am STH however just moved to Texas, even if I hadn’t I’m not sure I could continue buying those tix. It’s super frustrating…some of the moves they make just hurt my mind.


  • Chester's Finest

    The guy in the picture is a bouffon and a charlatan…Meola/Harkes/Marsch….really! The longer Curtin stays around the worse he is making Hackworth look with his player selections, the worse Sak looks for the coaching selection. If you aren’t going to bring in a coach with experience than why replace Curtin?


  • Union Fan

    Not an impressive list. Sounds like they are going cheap. If one looks around the league there are 3 types of coaches. Most all have many years of MLS experience. 1) Very successful college coaches, 2) Senior (not youth) national team coaches and player coaches. 3) Player coaches with the better teams have similar personalities to go with lots of MLS experiences. Fiery, ex-captains with many mls games and playoffs to their credits. The best ones seem to have some bite. So with that background, here are 3 choices.

    Sasho Cirovski – Outstanding successful college coach who runs a pro program at MD
    Bob Bradley – Might be tempted back with an Arena or Schmid sized offer
    Steve Nichols EX NE coach who took them to 4 MLS cups with minimal financial support.


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