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The Brotherly Debate: Is Jim Curtin "The Guy"?

Here at Brotherly Game, we have acquired the talents of two writers. Those two writers are brothers. As you can imagine, these Brothers often disagree with one another about what they think is best for The Union. Who is right this week?

Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

This is the first installment of a new series we're calling The Brotherly Debate. Brothers and tBG writers Drew and Doug Gobrecht often find themselves to have opposing opinions on hot button topics involving the Union. This, as you may have expected, often results in some heated debates about the team. They thought, "Man, these debates are Pulitzer Prize worthy stuff. Why don't we publish them?"

And so they did.

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Doug: I don't understand the Curtin love or the people who are just like, "Curtin is our coach because he's a nice guy so he can stay." I'm baffled, Drew, baffled!

Drew: My argument for Curtin is that I'm not sure changing coaches again is good for the team right now.

Doug: But why?

Drew: Consistency is necessary if you want to build something.

Doug: Even if that consistency and stability which is so valued is below average?

Drew: I think Curtin's tenure so far has been completely hamstrung by Nick Sakiewicz. Not saying the guy is great, but he has done some things right. With a sporting director helping him I think we could see improvement.

Doug: I'll agree he was placed in a terrible position, but I don't think the player acquisitions of the CEO had the significant effects everyone says it does. This season, we're led to believe, was Jim Curtin's and Chris Albright's. So what have they done besides sign Tranquillo Barnetta?

Drew: They traded for CJ Sapong, which I think everyone agrees was a good trade. Also,  It may have been their season, but the Carlos Valdes/ Rais M'Bohli debacles totally screwed them last offseason and that severely limited what they could do.

Doug: Valdes was loaned along with how many other players? Three? Four? To bring in panic loans (Fernando Aristeguieta and Steven Vitoria) that didn't turn out. I don't think M'Bohli deserves as much blame as he gets. I don't think the problems signing M'Bohli are enough of a reason to give Curtin a second chance. I think the hurried inability to get players to come here, regardless of the financial limitations, is an unfortunate thing. I don't want to completely remove blame from Sakiewicz since I hate his guts, but I don't want to say it's all Sakiewicz's fault when it comes to Curtin's ability to coach.

At a game management level, he just doesn't have it. He is often completely out-managed in the game. He’s just not good enough yet. His player development is poor so far, and the team has regressed quite a bit since he started in my mind. I don't blame Sakiewicz for that.

Drew: I agree with that to an extent. If we get rid of Curtin I won't be that upset. I'd prefer we demote him to assistant. I don't think it's his fault he got promoted to head coach too soon. I don't think he should be chased out of town for that. If Stewart thinks, however, that there's a better option out there then we should go with him. I'm just not sure there necessarily is a better option. Jason Kreis, maybe? I have a lot of questions about him too. Obviously the players at New York City FC hated him. Was that hate warranted? Does he see eye to eye with Stewart about his vision for the team? His pedigree is right, but there's more to it than that.

Doug: I'm not saying chase him out of town, but just because his appointment was circumstantial doesn't mean he gets to keep his job. There are tons of options better than Curtin. Not just Kreis. Kreis developed RSL into what they are today and I think that he would be a substantial upgrade over Curtin. The thing that we get wrapped up in is saying that there might not be someone out there who is better. That thought doesn't really work in soccer which has probably thousands of coaches that are looking right now for jobs.

Drew: Stewart is the guy that gets to make this call and we don't really know anything about what Stewart wants to do.

Doug: We can look at AZ as a blueprint. Give me some Dutch blood in blue and gold.

Drew: I mean, sure. To an extent. But we're talking about a different league, different players, different coaches, different culture. I'm sure he will run the team in a similar, way, but that doesn't mean he's going to try to rebuild the same team he built in AZ.

Doug: I know that, but it's a good blueprint. Stewart has had success wherever he's been. I'm not saying the guy will win MLS Cup next year but he's got a good track record.

Drew: I didn't suggest you were saying that at all.

Doug: Yes you did and you know it!

Drew: I just mean that we don't really know what his plans are. So it's hard to say whether or not hiring a new coach would be beneficial. Honestly having a less experienced coach might be better for Earnie, if he's going to have final say for everything. I feel like more experienced coaches are going to want to apply their own systems and their own idea of the right players. Curtin, despite his devotion to the 4-2-3-1, is probably more moldable and open minded at this point in his career.

Doug: I'd rather have an experienced coach who has the tactical guile to be able to adjust his style to fit any vision Stewart has. I don't want a coach who does everything Stewart wants. I want a coach who has the abilities on the pitch to manage the game and make the tactical decisions that impact the game positively. A coach who is on the same page as Stewart. As far as I see it there has to be synergy between the two. Stewart oversees everything but doesn't call the shots in practice and on the pitch.

Drew: Sure. I want that too.

Doug: I don’t think Curtin has the skills necessary to be that guy for us.

Drew: I agree that Curtin probably isn't good enough right now to be a winning coach in MLS. I also think he's still learning and that 1.5 seasons while operating in an organization run by an idiot (Nick Sakiewicz) isn't a large enough sample size to judge his potential. That being said, if Stewart has a better, more experienced coach in mind, I am fine with giving him the job. But ultimately, it’s up to Earnie. If we’re giving Stewart the keys to the castle, I think we also have to give him the benefit of the doubt.  We have to assume that his decisions for the club are what he thinks is best. I don't think Stewart would have taken the job if Sugarman had told him he had to keep Curtin. Why would a sporting director walk into that situation if he didn't think Curtin could get the job done?

Doug: Stewart definitely has the final say there's no denying that. Plenty of SD's would be fine cleaning house and hiring their guys.

Drew: I'm saying that I think Sugarman would have been prepared to hire him even if he wanted to can Curtin. I don't know yet if Stewart is one of those guys. Stewart not wanting to can Curtin (so far) says to me that he believes Curtin can get the job done. I think if he was, Sugarman wouldn't have come out and said that he wanted Curtin to stay.

Doug: Sugarman said that?

Drew: Sugarman came out and said that the people he interviewed wanted to keep Curtin as head coach.

Doug:Sugarman can say whatever he wants.

Drew: Of course he can. I'm just saying I don't think he would have said that if Stewart had plans to fire Curtin as soon as he has control.

Doug:I think Sugarman will say anything to appear confident and not damn anyone in his organization. Remember it was still during the current season.

Drew: Right, but he didn't have to say that at all.

Doug: He was asked if Curtin was still going to be the head coach, right?

Drew: He was, but all he had to say to fully answer that question is, "I'm going to leave that kind of thing up to the future Sporting Director." If he wanted to show support for Curtin he could have added, "But I do believe that Jim Curtin has what it takes to be our coach."

Doug: Sugarman will leave it up to Stewart, but the only indicator is that all of the SD's he looked at wanted to keep him. During the next month apparently that was when Stewart became a candidate. Stewart, if those reports are true, may not fall into that category.

Drew: We'll certainly find out.  Like I said, until Stewart fires Curtin, I think we have to assume that Stewart wants him to be the guy. If Curtin has Stewart's vote of confidence, then he also has mine.

Also, I think you’re a stupid loser, that you smell terrible, and that I am the superior sibling in every way imaginable.

Doug: Yeah, well I think you’re an ego-maniacal charlatan who knows nothing about the fine sport of Soccer.

Drew: Yeah… Well… Shut up!


Editor’s Note: In the interest of brevity, The Brotherly Game editors decided to remove the rest of the Gobrecht Brother’s conversation as it had nothing to do with Soccer and everything to do with who was really their Mother’s favorite.