2018 may not have led to any trophies for the Philadelphia Union, but it did see the club finish with statistically its best MLS season yet. On Monday, Union head coach Jim Curtin was rewarded with a one-year deal to remain at Talen Energy Stadium.
Despite an early exit in the MLS Knockout Round, Curtin led the Union to 50 points, its most in club history. The Union also reached the U.S. Open Cup Final for the third time in six seasons, eventually falling to the Houston Dynamo.
Curtin’s philosophy of developing homegrown players paid off bigtime, with centerbacks Auston Trusty and Mark McKenzie shining in the U’s backline. Matt Real and Anthony Fontana also saw first-team minutes this season, while several preseason moves played huge roles for Philadelphia this season.
“What I’ve seen in the past couple of months, how he [Jim] guided the team, how he did even some tactical changes, that’s what we need in the future,” Union Sporting Director Ernst Tanner said at Monday’s end of season press conference. “He did a great job in the past season. He is a hardworking coach, he is good in every organization, and has developed from a good youth coach to a great professional coach.”
Since taking over in 2014, Curtin has a record of 59-64-32 in 155 combined matches with the Union.
Sounders pick up options on 10 players, Alonso out of contract
The Seattle Sounders continued their postseason transactions by picking up contract options on 10 players for the 2019 MLS season.
Among the players retained for next season was MLS Defender of the Year finalist Chad Marshall, Kim Kee-Hee, and midfielders Cristian Roldan and Gustav Svensson.
However, club legend Osvaldo Alonso’s future with the club remains in doubt after the midfielder has not been resigned. Joining Alonso for free agency is longtime MLS vet Lamar Neagle, who made six substitute appearances in 2018.
“We’re excited to bring back the majority of players on our squad to make another strong run in 2019,” Sounders GM and President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey said. “It’s always difficult to make these decisions at the end of the every season, but ultimately we’re excited about the group we have in place and what we can accomplish next year.”
Also seeing their options picked up for next season was Bryan Meredith, Jordan McCrary, Jordy Delem, Alex Roldan, Harry Shipp, and Henry Wingo.
Union exercise 2019 options on seven players, decline options for seven
After receiving a new contract for the 2019 season, Union head coach will see many familiar faces return to Chester.
The Union also announced on Monday that they’ve picked up options on seven players for next season, extending the roster to 17 who are under contract for 2019.
Headlining the options are defenders Keegan Rosenberry and Jack Elliott, midfielders Ilsinho and Fafa Picault, and striker Cory Burke. Burke and Picault combined for 21 of the team’s 49 league goals in 2018, with both of them earning international call-ups to their respective national teams.
Rosenberry finished with 33 appearances in the regular season, while Burke and Picault both had 30 apiece. Ilsinho scored six goals in 24 appearances, while Olivier Mbaizo and Derrick Jones also saw their contract options picked up by the team.
The team also declined contract options for seven players for the upcoming season. Third-string goalkeeper Jake McGuire, defenders Richie Marquez and Josh Yaro, midfielders Fabian Herbers and Adam Najem, and forward Jay Simpson all have been declined.
Brazilian wingback Fabinho is out of contract for the 2019 season, but the club is currently in negotiations with him on a new deal. The Union will begin their 2019 preseason schedule in February.
FC Cincinnati signs Corben Bone ahead of inaugural MLS campaign
With FC Cincinnati set to make their MLS debut in 2019, the club has announced the signing of a servant from their USL days.
Midfielder Corben Bone has been signed by FC Cincinnati where he will occupy a domestic roster spot, the club announced Monday. The 30-year-old has been part of the organization since FC Cincinnati’s first USL season back in 2016.
He is one of three players currently signed for the 2019 MLS season, joining Fanendo Adi and Fatai Alashe. During his three years with the Orange ad Blue at USL level, Bone started 94 matches where he scored 16 goals and added eight assists in all comps.
“I’m ecstatic. I’m so happy for myself and my family for a lot of hard work that I’ve put in over this long career,” Bone said. “I’m thrilled that I can return to MLS with this club because these last few years have been a special part of my life, so to achieve that is a very big accomplishment.”
2018 saw Bone voted to the USL All-League Second Team, after scoring 11 goals and registering four assists in 30 matches this season. After MLS stops with both Chicago and Philadelphia earlier in his career, Bone now prepares for a new chapter with FC Cincinnati.