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Jim Curtin returning for sixth season as Philadelphia Union head coach

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New Sporting Director Ernst Tanner gives Curtin another one-year contract

Jim Curtin at a press conference at Talen Energy Stadium after it was confirmed that he will continue as head coach of the Philadelphia Union in 2019
Matt Ralph

Jim Curtin will be back in 2019 for his sixth season as head coach of the Philadelphia Union.

Sporting Director Ernst Tanner, who began his tenure back in September after Earnie Stewart departed to become the first general manager of the United States Men’s National Team, made it official at a press conference at Talen Energy Stadium on Monday.

“Jim led us to playoffs the second time within a three-years period, his relation to the players from all that I have seen now is very, very good and he’s an expert in developing young players, which will be a clear focus in future as well,” Tanner said.

Tanner also referenced Curtin’s fourth-place finish in the voting for MLS Coach of the Year.

“That is quite an external view and I would say given this we should work together and out of what we were talking the last couple weeks this will match,” he said.

One change in the technical staff Tanner did announce was the departure of goalkeeper coach Tim Hanley, who joined the staff last off-season.

“In terms of the future I have something different in mind,” Tanner said.

Curtin, a 39-year-old Oreland native, has been the head coach now for four full seasons after initially seeing out the 2014 season as an interim when John Hackworth was fired. His regular season coaching record is 54-64-36 and he’s coached the Union to the playoffs twice, losing in the knockout round in 2016 and 2018, and to losses in the U.S. Open Cup final in 2014, 2015 and 2018.

“I can’t wait to get started for 2019 and a good foundation has been laid,” Curtin said. “Ernst has been giving lengthy talks to the technical staff in terms of implementing this new style. I’m excited by it. I think the fans will really like it. You will see an aggressiveness like he alluded to, you will see the idea of two forwards involved with our system and just a little more flexibility overall in that scheme.”

The former Villanova standout and MLS defender initially joined the club as a youth coach in 2010 and guided a team of area youth all-stars to the 2012 Generation adidas Cup title before being hired as a first-team assistant in 2013.

Only two current head coaches in MLS have been with their clubs longer than Curtin and both also have ties to greater Philadelphia. Delran, N.J. Peter Vermes has been at Sporting Kansas City since 2009 and Middletown, Pa. native Ben Olsen has been the D.C. United head coach since 2010.