May 18, 2013; Chester, PA, USA; Philadelphia Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz before game between the Chicago Fire and the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
On November 14th, the Philadelphia Union announced they had hired Rene Meulensteen as a consultant to the front office as they look for a full-time sporting director. Philadelphia Union owner, Jay Sugarman, implied this was a deal that would last for a couple of months or so.
This signing was much more than simply the hiring of Rene Meulensteen, though. This press conference had a lot of implications for the future of the Philadelphia Union, and it started with the presence of Jay Sugarman. For those who are unaware, Sugarman is the main man behind the finances of the Union. He is owner, but he is not a public owners like some.
This was the first time Jay Sugarman has directly addressed the media in a long time. That alone made this press conference that much more important. Sugarman used this as a platform to give everyone the state of where the Philadelphia Union is. He also clearly defined the roles of the other four people present with him (Rene Meulensteen, Nick Sakiewicz, Tommy Wilson, and Jim Curtin) This is something that many have wanted to know for a while.
More from MLS
- Coming to America – a game-changer by the name of Lionel Messi
- Lionel Messi set to join MLS side Inter Miami
- Canadian MLS clubs split points in Matchweek 5
- Herrera aims to erase memories of injury-prone debut season
- Matchday 4 Canadian MLS recap
Over the course of this disappointing season, Nick Sakiewicz went under more and more pressure as many people believed the failures started with him. The fans did not like his involvement with player decisions. As the season drew closer to an end, Sakiewicz denied his involvement with any player involvement. He said that was primarily on Jim Curtin and Chris Albright.
In this press conference, Jay Sugarman clearly defined Sakiewicz’s role as strictly the business side of the operations, something know one really questions he can do well. That point seems to be reinforced with the notion that the Union are actively looking for a sporting director, something fans have wanted for a while now.
Whether or not this will be considered a trial for Rene for the sporting director job will remain to be seen, but the fact that the Union are looking to fill that role is a huge step in the right direction. Not only that, but having the resource to pick Rene’s brain will be invaluable for Curtin and Albright.
Meulensteen is known throughout the world for his ability to run practices and develop players. For an inexperienced coach like Jim Curtin, being able to possibly pick up some tips for Rene will be huge. Tommy Wilson (Head of the academy) will have the chance to learn a lot as well from one of the better developers of youth there is.
Maybe Rene Meulensteen won’t be here long-term. That still remains to be seen, but I think yesterday the Philaelphia Union showed a renewed commitment to their soccer operations in an attempt to compete with the bigger teams in the league. We all know they cannot outspend other teams, but they can play smart and still win.
I know for me, as a fan of the Philadelphia Union, this whole press conference excited me. I really believe this may be looked at as a turning points in a couple of years if the Union can find that right sporting director and begin to compete more. There was a lot to take away from this press conference, and a lot to be excited about as the Union’s offseason continues along.