The Union played their first game more than a decade ago. Since that time, they have won:
- 0 Conference Championships
- 0 Cups
- 0 CONCACAF Champions League Births
Jim Curtin has been head coach of the Union since June 10, 2014, when he took over for John Hackworth. More than half the Union’s history has seen Curtin at the helm. His biggest accomplishments are 3 losses in the US Open Cup Final and a single playoff win.
Why is he still here?
Jim Curtin is the 3rd Longest Tenured Head Coach in MLS
Only 4 coaches in MLS have been at the helm of their club for more than 5 years (in order of tenure): Peter Vermes with SKC, Ben Olsen with DCU, Jim Curtin with PHI, and Greg Vanney with TFC.
- Peter Vermes has won 3 U.S. Open Cups and 1 MLS Title.
- Ben Olsen has won a U.S. Open Cup and an MLS Coach of the Year.
- Jim Curtin has won nothing.
- Greg Vanney has won an MLS Title, 3 Eastern Conference titles, a Supporters’ Shield, and both MLS and CONCACAF Coach of the Year.
Jim Curtin has no prior or current coaching success. He has never been recognized as a top coach. He carries no name value for bringing in outside talent. To be a long tenured coach in any major sport, there is a simple, basic requirement that the coach brings something to the table.
What does Curtin bring to the table?
Jim Curtin, the Stubborn, Inflexible, Unchanging Manager
When Jim Curtin took over in 2014, he established a few things:
- He plays the guys he deems the best XI, every game they are available, regardless of whether they are the best option, regardless of how many games or minutes they are playing, regardless of opponent.
- He plays the same formation every minute of every game, regardless of whether it is the best option, regardless of personnel, regardless of opponent.
- He makes an offensive sub in the 60th minute. In the 80th minute, he makes a second offensive sub if tied or losing at home or losing on the road, or a defensive sub if winning at home or tied or winning on the road.
- He does not do anything outside of the above, except for the rare third sub in exceptional circumstances. For a long time, the refrain was that he would learn. He would grow. He would get better. Earnie Stewart will help him. Ernst Tanner will help him.
- Nobody can help him. He is not going to grow. He is not going to get better. He will play a particular brand of mediocre soccer that grinds out regular season wins, often with help from the special Andre Blake, and then fall apart when faced with a great team, the teams you need to beat in important games.
Why is anybody still expecting something different?
Moving into the Future
The question when firing a manager is: who out there is better? And the answer in the Union’s case is that it’s an irrelevant question. The goal of any successful team is not to “make the playoffs” or “have a good run”, it’s to win championships, titles, cups. The Union will not achieve that with Curtin at the helm.
But it’s not worth thinking about what the worst case scenario is with a new coach, because the best case scenario with Curtin is “never win anything”, and there is no worst case scenario worse than that, it’s just a matter of degrees of losing.