For Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin, the end of the MLS summer transfer window felt like a “roller coaster.”
After acquiring US national team midfielder Alejandro Bedoya from France’s FC Nantes earlier on Wednesday, the Union closed the day by dealing Sebastien Le Toux to the Colorado Rapids and trading for Charlie Davies from the New England Revolution.
In both cases, the Union had to carefully measure off-field considerations as Le Toux is a franchise icon and a beloved member of the Philadelphia soccer community, while Davies has dealt with so much hardship, including his recent announcement that he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that's now in remission.
“I had a good relationship with Seba. It makes it hard,” Curtin said. “You have to separate the personal side of things as best you can. It sounds cruel ... but we were able to get an offer that made sense for the club’s future.
“In terms of Charlie, you talk about character. We share a lot of mutual friends, and everything you hear about him is he’s a very good guy, a high-character guy, a guy who’s bounced back from adversity. He’s a guy that’s mentally tough.”
While moving to a new city at this time of his life might not be the easiest thing to do — Davies recently welcomed twins three months premature — Curtin said the former US national team striker is “excited for the new challenge.”
Making the transition easier is the fact that he’ll join the club at the same time as Bedoya, his good friend and old college roommate at Boston College. He’s also close with Union leading scorer Chris Pontius, who he played with while at D.C. United in 2011.
“Chemistry is important to me,” Curtin said. “I think it’s important to get along well, to know each other other, and to be willing to fight a little bit extra for each other.”
Davies will arrive in Philadelphia on Thursday night and will be available for Saturday’s game against D.C. United (7 pm ET, MLS LIVE) at RFK Stadium, his old stomping grounds. (Bedoya may meet the team directly in D.C. but his status for the game is uncertain.)
Curtin said that Davies will most likely back up C.J. Sapong, offering more speed late in games than Sapong’s bruising, hold-up style. The head coach also didn’t rule out the possibility of the two strikers playing together at times.
“The way C.J. plays, he plays so physical and so hard and fights for every ball, there is potential for injury,” Curtin admitted. “And I can do a better job of not running him into the ground. ... When we get off the bus now and it’s C.J. Sapong and Charlie Davies, other teams are going to take notice.”
While the addition of Davies and Bedoya will certainly give the Union an offensive boost, they will also miss Le Toux, who’s been a valuable winger and leaves the club as the franchise record-holder in pretty much every statistical category, including goals (50) and assists (50).
Curtin said the Union didn’t necessarily intend to trade Le Toux and recognizes that “fans are going to be upset” about the deal. But when the Rapids approached them and offered General Allocation Money, they thought the offer made sense since the popular Frenchman will be a free agent at the end of the season.
“It was a difficult choice because he’s such a legend for the club,” Curtin said. “It’s not easy. It’s the hard part of the business. But we had to put emotion aside and do what is best for the club. Seba might not see it now, but long term I think it’s what was best for him, as well as the future of the Philadelphia Union.”