Jim Curtin has done an exceptional job in helping turn the Philadelphia Union into one of the top MLS franchises, and although Curtin still has goals he’d like to achieve in Philadelphia, he would be open to leaving the club for a first-ever national team position.
Curtin admitted in a recent episode of “The Crack Podcast” with former U.S. men’s national team players DaMarcus Beasley and Oguchi Onyewu, and soccer fashion designer Mabricio Wilson that he would leave his position with the Union to become an assistant coach with the USMNT if the opportunity presented itself.
“Whoever they choose, if they choose José Mourinho, if they choose [Carlo] Ancelotti, if they choose Jesse Marsch, I would also be their assistant,” Curtin said. “Of course I’d love to coach the national team, if that’s what you’re asking. But I said this before [about being an assistant] and I mean what I say when I say it..that’s how important I think this  World Cup is.”
Curtin has served as head coach of the Union since 2014, most recently leading the club to growing success in MLS and Concacaf tournaments. The Union lifted a first-ever Supporters’ Shield in 2020 before reaching the Eastern Conference Finals in 2021 and MLS Cup in 2022.
Curtin is a two-time MLS Coach of the Year (2020, 2022) and also watched his Union squad reach the Concacaf Champions League semifinals in 2021 during their debut in the competition. His continued trust in homegrown players has also led to former talents Brenden Aaronson and Mark McKenzie work their way into the USMNT, while Paxten Aaronson, Anthony Fontana, and Jack De Vries have all earned European moves over the last two years.
U.S. Soccer has yet to make any decision regarding the current USMNT head coaching vacancy, although Curtin’s longtime friend and former teammate Jesse Marsch has been linked as a possible candidate. Curtin remains focused on the upcoming season with the Union, which will kick off on Feb. 25, but also is keeping one eye on a potential future representing the USMNT.
“I think coaches have to be humble enough to say, if they choose Jesse as the guy, I’d love to be Jesse’s assistant, I’d be honored to,” Curtin said. “I could share maybe some defensive ideas that I have, that I think would be helpful. If whoever’s in charge decides we want to be a transition team, go out and hire whoever you think is the head coach, but get the best guy in the world right now at transition, you can’t leave any stone unturned.”
Curtin’s contract with the Union is set to expire at the end of the 2023 MLS season unless a new deal is agreed upon by year’s end. The Union kick off their league schedule on Feb. 25 against the Columbus Crew at Subaru Park.
Not who I want for the head coach but would be a solid assistant
Curtin would be on shortlist of MLS coaches, (Vermes & Smetzer), who I think are capable of coaching the US senior team. He’s integrated academy players, with international players and former US MNT players w/ MLS vets to make the Union formidable. Union has had less money than a lot of teams and Curtin has produced a winning product. A person like that could pick a quality squad with what America has to offer abroad & at home. Anyone see who’s the interim coach for Leeds? I bet you can guess with 2 chances.
my deal on curtin is he’s only won a regular season 1 seed. he had some runner-ups in USOC when the team was poor. he had a good offensive team last year and lost. in that sense he’s no more proven than berhalter was, whose claim to fame was the crew were second best in 2015.
i would focus primarily on winning coaches. i find the fetish for having played americans to — well, with some teams more than others (houston barely plays americans) — end up with MLS candidates, and often “value” choices who are popular now but often haven’t actually won something. thing being, the goal is to win something with USMNT. i kind of like proof of concept. ideally multiple proofs of concept. arena had won at UVa and DC multiple times each. bradley won a title with expansion chicago. i want the ones who can take the talent and cash it in.
i do think we should hire someone who either blows our doors off or has strong knowledge of the pool in an interview. i personally wish we would drop the top-down executive-imposed missionary style theories of how to play and hire coaches with a history of winning and who have perhaps shown some degree of adaptability. i would like for them to have to explain how they would use the existing pool for their initial idea — which i think addresses your familiarity concern — but i want a coach who might add new people or be able to tactically adjust. i don’t think our tactical one note helps us win over time, and within individual games we seem to front run more than get stronger later. which suggests we have the one idea and don’t adjust. i’d like someone who can sub worth a hoot and if plan A doesn’t work has B and C. i think what we have now is more like missionary ideology than team management.
Philly has NEVR had the weapons, or should I say high level DP’s that a lot of other MLS teams have, so essentially he consistently does more with less….couple that with his approach to playing younger players and you have a coach that gets it!
So basically your proof of concept is Arena and all his titles made it one more game because they luckily drew Mexico in the Round of 16. His team had a worse group stage record than Berhalter’s. What position did Arena’s 2002 squad finish in Concacaf qualifying? Yes, all those NCAA and MLS titles got him a 3rd place finish. In which he needed Trinidad to upset Honduras in San Pedro Sula to in the final window to get that. The truth is previous titles isn’t a predictor of success at all. Bradley’s titles didn’t get him any further. Bora’s Liga Mx title didn’t get him past Brazil. Sampson’s title at Santa Clara didn’t get him out of the group stage.
side point, they made the same arguments about GB, that he’d never had the best players, and he had to make something out of less, but neglect that “something” was never a trophy. there are coaches like SAF or mourinho who did stuff like win european trophies with teams like aberdeen or porto. i think there’s a risk when you hire a midtable guy that what they are capable of and used to is midtable work, eg, a coach of generally average crew teams finishing 3rd in the ocho.
second point, the US is not the Crew. they have a pretty good amount of talent. i thought we had the best talent pool in the region. i grant there are a few better NT out there. but i don’t know about treating our job like we’re hiring for leeds or something. i kind of think that mentality can be self-reinforcing. i think we need to elevate the type of coach we’re hiring and see if it rubs off more. i liked hiring winning MLS, thought klinsi was an attempted elevation, but now it’s turning into “does he have any MLS experience at all.” which to me is watered down. ie end of the flynn rule. i think this needs to swing the other way, stronger international candidates, people who can sandpaper some of the elite talent, teach it a thing or two, and manage individual games worth a hoot as opposed to push a single idea that may not work every or even most nights.
yo have to have talent and the players to win trophies, and if you look at MLS Cup winners they are the ones with high level DP’s and the most talent that set them apart from most other teams in the league. You can’t always outcoach talent
Berhalter won a GC and a NL so perhaps not winning the MLS Cup is not a predictor of NT success. Qualifying is not a championship, there’s no trophy and as Canada can attest has little effect on your seeding. It’s like criticizing Smetzer because he’s never won the Supporter’s Shield. He didn’t even win the Cup to qualify for the CL he won. He manages his roster to be in position to win in knockout rounds.
Chris Armas….David Wagner should get at least a sniff from the USSF
Please, please tell me that that is sarcasm? I’m begging please.
Right now Norwich are 10th place and promotion seems unlikely.
Which means getting Wagner off of Norwich is probably possible, if things stay the same..