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Report: Sakiewicz admits Muelensteen is up for Union job, but denies job is already his

ReneMeulensteenFulham1-WestHamUnited (Getty)


Rene Meulensteen could become the next European coach to move stateside.

According to a report by ESPN FC, the former Fulham manager and Manchester United assistant is being considered for the Philadelphia Union’s head coaching position by Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz, but a decision on the team’s next manager won’t be coming any time soon.

“Absolutely no decision has been made,” Sakiewicz told ESPN FC. “About three weeks ago, I suspended any kind of search activity for a new coach. I’m probably going to pick it up some time after the Open Cup. But [the new coach is] completely undetermined.”

The Union have been without a permanent head coach since John Hackworth was fired on June 10 with a record of 3-7-6 to start the season. Former assistant coach and longtime MLS defender Jim Curtin is serving as the interim head coach, and has led the team back into the Eastern Conference playoff race and to a place in the U.S. Open Cup final.

Sakiewicz confirmed that the Dutchman Meulensteen is on the team’s head coaching short list, confirming links between Meulensteen and the club. Meulensteen’s last job was a three-month stint as manager of Fulham, unsuccessfully helping them avoid relegation as one of three managers used that season.

Meulensteen has also had short stints with Anzhi Makhachkala in 2013, Brondby in 2006-2007, and with Qatari clubs Al-Sadd (2000-2001) and Al-Ittihad (1999-2000). Meulensteen is perhaps best remembered for his time as an assistant at Man United under manager Sir Alex Ferguson.


What do you think of this news? Do you see Meulensteen joining the Union? Think they should hold on to Curtin?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. how could they lure this guy? He’s no big profile manager but has lots of experience. Just extremely great to have him over here working at a non-Galaxy or Red Bulls club.

      • The issue with the academies is having good coaching on a regular basis over a period of years that makes better players than the next club, not parachuting someone in irregularly to complain about the state of affairs or make snap teaching/judgments.

        Also, until the U-23 part is done, the ability to turn U-18 prospects into first teamers will remain haphazard. Right now you can do as well or better going to college, because even if you are well trained at 18 there is nowhere for you to play once signed. You can train them with Meulensteen all you want but they need to play.

    • The team has been playing better but Eastern teams 4-8 are playing for 2 playoff spots and Toronto has already canned their manager. If he makes the playoffs maybe he stays but if he misses them — even if he made them a lot better — they will likely bring in someone else. It’s not necessarily rational but I would expect heads to roll anywhere but Houston (Kinnear is like part of the furniture here, even if he’s not getting the results he used to) depending who gets left out of postseason musical chairs.

    • Disagree. Part of the reason that MLS lags in quality compared other leagues with national teams ranked lower than the USMNT is the level of our coaches, and their experience/education.

      I mean, even Bob Bradley can’t get a sniff at a halfway decent team in a halfway decent league.

      • What has Muelensteen accomplished on his own merits? He was assistant under SAF, which is a big deal, of course, but on his own, he hasn’t done much. Foreign does not automatically equal better. Ruud Gullit proved as much.

      • Darwin, surely you realize the USA is loaded with coaches with accents who learned the sport, and coaching, in Europe and South America and this has been the case for years. Yet we are where you say we are in terms of national team ranking and MLS quality even with these foreign coaches.

        Muelensteen has never demonstrated he can be a successful head coach. The Union could certainly benefit from his training session but they can get a better head coach here in North America.

      • BB is doing fine so far. Last time I saw they were safety middle table and this is just after being promoted. So results are fine. I have no idea if the club likes anything else about the man but they don’t suck.

      • Bradley has generally produced results where-ever he has gone, the perception problem he or other American coaches face doesn’t speak to their “experience/ quality.”

        Queiroz and others have coached here and then gone on to bigger jobs. But if you leave them out to make a sweeping “American coaches” argument of course it looks like MLS holds you back. Except it doesn’t, if you plug foreign coaches back in. It is a perception issue specific to domestic coaches who aren’t dual nationals like Berhalter (I know he came back, but he did coach Hammarby) or Wagner. Those guys are surely not our best coaches and yet they get hired easier abroad than our creme of the crop.

        You could take Arena, Bradley, Schmid, or any of the best coaches from here and they would all get the same treatment, which is the reverse of the UK over-rating their players on transfer value. Somehow being American lowers the esteem and expectations for your coaching.

        I find it hard to believe our coaches are in fact worse. I think it’s a perception issue.

      • +q Yes it is. a perception issue Good point. But let’s also remember this… why do we really care how Bob Bradley (or any other American who should happen to get a head coaching job in Europe in immediate future) does there?

        It is a perception thing, too.. Really, of all the things we can get out of Europe, this really is one of the least valuable other than “status”. It’s a barometer and a way to see how our our program is advancing, and what we can “export” that other programs want or can utilize. But it does very little for our game otherwise. It’s an indicator and a unique one, but unless we want to manufacture some argument about “exchange of ideas” etc its not a “must have” for us.

        One day in the much longer term future, I can see a way we could get some real value here… Once the bias has been eradicated and we can send younger coaches there to be bench coaches at top teams or first team coaches in lesser leagues, this could be a good education fo enhance the resumes and skil sets of guys who will coach MLS teams and perhaps the USMNT Senior and Youth teams.

        But for now, it’s just perception driving this. From both sides. And there will be a long, long lag.

    • In fairness, FFC is a mess that allowed 80 goals that year, had a swiss cheese slow defense, and has been plummeting down through the First Division this season. As with Bo Porter in Houston, it is hard to assess a manager given so little to work with. Did he squeeze what he could out of an awful team or did he contribute to their failure? Hard to say when they stink that bad.

      Unproven is a reasonable argument but then Curtin hasn’t done a ton and the question becomes, do you actually hire someone who does have proven chops? If you rule out Meulensteen as foreign (despite some head coaching experience and the ManU pedigree), only to hire some American dude to his first adult team head coaching job ever, the logic in turning down interesting foreign coaches is getting convoluted. MLS has both cycled some great coaches around who can’t get hired abroad, and hired players wet behind the ears for first coaching jobs they’re not ready for.

      Prior to the FFC debacle Meulensteen was a coach in some demand.


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