Dear Jim Curtin
Dear Jim Curtin,
First time, long time Jim, is it ok if I call you Jim? Thanks. I’m a huge fan. A smart young American coach known for a distinct style on the field and a distinct style on the sidelines. You’re killing it in Philly. You always struck me as the kind of guy who could eventually move on to the next level.
but look, you and I both know this is as good as it gets with the Philadelphia Union. The team has been doing great the last two years! But you’ve also been pretty lucky to get this far in the playoffs this year. And do we really want to bring up the Champions League experience? 4-0 walloping on aggregate? Sorry, didn’t mean to bring up sore subjects.
But this is the high water mark for Philadelphia in MLS. Boom-Bust based on the academy’s production and begging ownership to spend a million bucks on an aging name that wanted to play in New York and settled on Philadelphia. What ownership has in terms of available money is going into the academy, which is good, but they’re also happy to sell your best players before you really get a chance to win with them. We only need to look at FC Dallas for where a cheap owner and good academy will get you most years. Not far.
So we all know you’ve hit the ceiling with the Union. And that’s awesome. But we also all know it's time to move on. Maybe Europe sounds like a good move for you? Though, you’re probably not going to be going straight to a big club or even a top league. And Jesse Marsch is doing a great job of ruining Americans’s reputations and before that Bob Bradley was laughed out of England and Wales.
So if you are looking to get a job in Europe you’re probably looking at small team, likely with American ownership, and not much money to work with in which to build. Plymouth Argyle or Le Harve sound appealing? Probably not. Can I interest you in the Austrian 3rd division? Didn't think so. Even if you did eventually win the fans over, who may set fire to their stands at the announcement of an American manager, without winning promotion you’ll be seen as a disappointment. But I believe in you! You could do it. And after 5-6 years of slugging it out in the lower levels of leagues you can’t even pirate matches for, you might be given the opportunity to manage a relegation doomed club in a top league. But hey, your fashion sense would fit right in at Venezia!
And these European jobs aren’t going to pay real well. Yes the study-abroad aspect is nice, but taking less money, moving your family to Europe, only to hope a team decides to piss off their fan base and hire an American coach seems less than ideal. But maybe this is your dream! Club owners probably would enjoy an American manager who’s reputation is winning on a budget. They’d be happy to try to let you win with that same formula in Finland.
However, may I offer you another path to Europe?
FC Cincinnati. Yes, yes I know, that feels like the polar opposite of going to Europe. But hear me out. Sure the team has been bad, but guess what, you don’t have to manage those bad teams of the past. You’ll be given the teams of the future.
And those teams in the future are being built by your old friend Chris Albright. Let's not forget Albright helped build the teams you’ve had the most success with! Only this time he’s been given an absurdly large budget. Jim, listen, we spent over a million dollars on a championship midfielder who had just destroyed his leg. This ownership has been more than happy to spend stupid amounts of money. And now they have a competent general manager at the helm of those purse strings.
With Albright building a smart roster, ownership giving him a stupid amount of money, and you at the helm, Cincinnati will be a juggernaut. We’re not just talking about a deep roster to compete in MLS with the top end talent to win, we’re talking ambitious owners who would give you the ability to compete with LigaMX. You want to really make your mark in the United States before heading to Europe? How about being the first American manager to win the CONCACAF Champions League. And the new Leagues Cup vs LigaMX is coming, wouldn’t you rather be the manager of a team that has the resources to win that? Just like a player who dominates USL, you might be good enough for Europe, but they’re better off proving it at a higher tier stateside before moving. Cincinnati can give you that next gear.
Oh and speaking of money, man, you know you’d make bank if you came over to Cincinnati. Seriously, Philadelphia’s cost of living is almost 30% higher than Cincinnati’s. We’re talking whatever raise you can get out of Carl and Meg PLUS 30% in terms of your daily living. Try getting those numbers in Europe.
Yes, you’ll probably miss driving way outside of the city for games, but I promise you the West End Stadium will more than make up for your missed podcast listening time. If having all of your home games in the consensus best soccer stadium in the US isn’t a perk of the job, I don’t know what is.
Finally, the academy. I know you’re used to getting top tier talent to come though the pipeline and into the first team. I’ll admit FC Cincinnati isn’t producing first team talent, yet. But you might not be aware that the u-15 team and u-18 teams are both ranked in the top 10 nationally by TopDrawerSoccer. In just a few short years the youth teams in Cincinnati are rocketing up the national rankings. You won’t have to wait long before the talent comes online.
So that's the pitch Jim. Make oodles of money, move your family to a lovely city, win Leagues Cup and the Champions League, leave your mark on American soccer forever, then parlay that into a move to Europe while bypassing the worst parts of the European coaching grind. You get to show the world the manager you and I both know you can become and we finally knock Bruce Arena off his smug pedestal atop American soccer.
Yours in Orange and Blue,