MLS Insider: Tom Bogert

Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin addresses FC Cincinnati reports

Jim Curtin Philly

Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin on Friday directly addressed the report that FC Cincinnati are aiming to make him their next head coach, assuaging fears of fans in Philly.

The Athletic's Sam Stejskal reported that Cincy general manager Chris Albright, who was Philly's technical director from 2014 until this fall when he was hired to replace Gerard Nijkamp, is seeking to pry the 2020 MLS Sigi Schmid Coach of the Year away from the Union.

Stejskal noted that there's no buyout in Curtin's contract but Cincy had at least one offer declined. Curtin is under contract through the 2023 season, while the Orange & Blue were last coached by Jaap Stam before Tyrone Marshall closed out the 2021 season on an interim basis.

"It’s flattering," Curtin told media. "You know my relationship with Chris and how ambitious their ownership group is there. I know they’re going to have success, but I have two years left on my Union contract. This is where I’m going to be."

Curtin has been Union head coach since 2014 and is highly respected around MLS. He led Philadelphia to the 2020 Supporters’ Shield title and to their first-ever Eastern Conference Final in this year’s Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. They're not among MLS' highest-spending clubs but have forged ahead by blending a top-end academy with shrewd international and domestic signings.

As the Union have enjoyed sustained success over the past few seasons, clubs from around the world have come calling. Philly transferred academy products Brenden Aaronson (RB Salzburg) and Mark McKenzie (KRC Genk) to Europe this winter – and they'll be far from the last. Sporting director Ernst Tanner had interest from clubs hoping to bring him back to Europe this offseason, while Albright left for Cincy and assistant coach Pat Noonan has interviewed for a number of head coaching vacancies across the league.

“I addressed it with our players," Curtin said. "I told them the truth: If you look around, when teams have success and teams do well, individual accolades follow. Sometimes that’s for staff members. Pat Noonan has been linked with a ton of jobs, he’s more than deserving and ready to be a head coach. You see different rumors with our players being linked with Europe, this is part of the game."

Philly have bigger issues to worry about, as they prepare to play (and host) their first-ever Eastern Conference Final against New York City FC on Sunday (3 pm ET | ABC, ESPN Deportes). While trying to finetune training, they're dealing with COVID-19 difficulties.

Curtin announced that Philadelphia couldn't train on Thursday due to an outbreak.

"My focus is on New York City," Curtin said. "I talked to the guys about it, there’s always noise from the outside, especially when teams have success. It’s not about me, not about Pat, not about the players. It’s about all of us together.”