With the Philadelphia’s Union MLS is Back Tournament run finished off in the semi-finals against Portland, head coach Jim Curtin and his team are looking forward toward their next match scheduled against the New England Revolution in late August.
But for teams abroad, now may be the time to try to snatch a few of the Union’s stars from the tournament, namely midfielder Brenden Aaronson and defender Mark McKenzie.
Offers for the Union’s young stars began rolling in from Europe during the tournament, but, according to Curtin, bidding is heating up as the team returns home.
“There’s real offers that are coming in,” he said in a radio interview with Fox Sports The Gambler. “Obviously, Ernst will have some input on the timing and when things are right for players; we’ll speak and have some meetings at the end of the week to put somethings in motion.”
Curtin, who has coached both players through their years in the Union academy through to their professional careers, recognizes that both players are ready for Europe, though the time and place are still to be worked out.
“Brenden and Mark have been good players that I’ve watched grow now from our Academy... and to really take their next jump to where they’re not just players out on an MLS field, but they’re players that are dominating games in MLS,” he said.
As Curtin noted, the efforts to send both players to Europe will be challenging, as the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the transfer market.
“I think you’ll see all over the world that it’s going to be an interesting window that comes up,” he said. “This goes for players coming in and players going out because it’s a whole new market. “With this pandemic that we’re in, the market is going to shift, it’s going to change.”
Eventually, however, McKenzie and Aaronson will board a flight to somewhere across the Atlantic to continue their professional careers. Once that happens, Sporting Director Ernst Tanner and the Union front office will have to find their replacements. And as Curtin notes, that won’t be an easy task.
“We have our work cut out for us, but overall there will be a plan in place and an action plan moving forward,” he said.
Even after the Union have sold their players and found replacements, they’ll still be feeling the effects of the sales through the promotion of the team and the academy.
“We have a lot of good players that a lot of clubs in the world are tuned in on, which means it’s good for the Philadelphia Union badge,” Curtin said. “It’s a great advert for our academy, it’s a great advert for our club.”