Why the USMNT should hire Jim Curtin: A strong voice for youth players, long-term head coach prospect & deeply knowledgeable about U.S. Soccer's oddities
Jim Curtin's pointed comments about this month's U20 World Cup put him in the national spotlight for at least the third time this year, after he had previously entered himself into the U.S. men's national team coaching ring in February and sparked discussion with his thoughts on Ted Lasso in March. The 43-year-old has positioned himself as a leading voice in the U.S. Soccer landscape, often giving refreshingly honest takes.
His U20 remarks were typically bold and impressive; he chastised MLS organizations he could one day want to work for after they announced they wouldn't release players for the U.S. cause at the tournament. He took a stand on a cause that mattered to him, even if it upset people.
“Think about the kids - and I’m getting fired up - this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they may never get back again,” Curtin told reporters as part of a wide-ranging interview. “To prevent them from playing in a U20 World Cup? I’m sorry, I don’t agree with it.”
Curtin, of course, is known as a player development guru in Philadelphia, where one of the best academies in MLS continues to mint stars. The Union have finished top three in the Eastern Conference in each of the past four seasons largely because of their formula for turning raw homegrown talent into next-level game-changers. They don't compete financially with the biggest spenders, and yet they are usually right there near the top of the standings.
The manager's club success in punching above his weight, connecting with young players and providing an assured voice both inside and outside the locker room would make him a good fit for the USMNT as it races to discover its best identity before the 2026 World Cup. He doesn't need to be the main man, though one day you can see him embarking on that road. There's little doubt that if the call came to work as an assistant - perhaps under Jesse Marsch - he would take it in a heartbeat.
“Of course I’d love to coach the national team if that’s what you’re asking,” Curtin said on The Crack Podcast. “But I said this before and I mean what I say when I say it, whoever they choose, if they choose Jose Mourinho, if they choose [Carlo] Ancelotti, if they choose Jesse Marsch, I would also be their assistant. That’s how important I think this World Cup is.”
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