Jim Curtin grins - Philadelphia Union
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Union's Curtin jokes he won't "shed a tear" not to face Almiron, Giovinco

For the past 24 hours, transfer news dominated conversation around Major League Soccer as Miguel Almiron signed for Newcastle in a record-breaking deal from Atlanta United while Sebastian Giovinco was bought by Al-Hilal FC in Saudi Arabia from Toronto FC.

The news reverberated around the league, even down in Florida as Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin continued his club's preparation for the start of the season, which is just over a month away.

Philly open their campaign against Toronto then face Atlanta two weeks later. As such, Curtin isn't exactly heartbroken that his opponents will have one less superstar to face Philly.

"Selfishly as a team, I don't shed a tear that Giovinco won't be there week one and I don't shed a tear that Almiron won't be there week three," Curtin joked on a media conference call from Florida. "We understand these teams are going to reinforce with big-time players. But maybe there is a little integration that takes some time that maybe we can benefit from at the beginning of the season."

Curtin, who is entering his fifth full season in the big seat on the Union bench, did have a more serious takeaway from the deals. 

"It's exciting because young players all over the world are going to look at this league as a destination of choice," Curtin said. "That's powerful. More powerful than I think people realize, to be honest."

As for the Union, they completed their first friendly of the preseason, topping the New York Red Bulls 3-2. New signing Sergio Santos partnered Cory Burke up top as the club debuted a new 4-4-2 tight diamond formation with an emphasis on pressing, just as GM Ernst Tanner forecasted.

Santos, a 24-year-old Brazilian striker who joined the club from Chilean side Audax Italiano in December, hasn't taken long to impress his new head coach throughout the first week and a half of preseason both with his ability and character.

"Off the field: excellent," Curtin said. "He's a big kid, I would call him, because he always has a smile on his face and is joking around. We have a great collection of Brazilians so he feels comfortable."

While Curtin speaks highly of the player off the field, he matches that sentiment about his first impressions of the speedster on the field. 

"You can see how powerful and explosive he is a player, he's a handful," Curtin said. "He's a guy that I can tell you right now that center backs won't like to play against in our league, for sure. It starts with his willingness to run and fight for every ball, stretch the defense and get in behind. He also has very soft feet and hits a really heavy ball with his left foot."

"He has all the attributes of a very good goal scorer, that's why he's here, but he's left a really good impression over the first week and a half here," Curtin added.


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