August 9, 2014
IN THE RUNNING
Union interviews Meola, Harkes, Marsch in its coaching search
By Michael Lewis
Former Major League Soccer players Jesse Marsch, Tony Meola and John Harkes are among 12 candidates on the Philadelphia Union's short list to replace John Hackworth as coach, club president Nick Sakiewicz confirmed on Saturday afternoon.
Jim Curtin, who has been running the show as the interim coach since the Hackworth's dismissal on June 10, also is under consideration for the full-time postiion, sources said. The Union, 3-7-6 at the time of the coaching change, is 2-1-3 under Curtin entering Saturday night's home match with the Montreal Impact.
Still very much alive in the Eastern Conference playoff hunt, the seventh-place Union is 5-8-9 with 24 points. The Union also will play at FC Dallas in the Lamar Hunt/U.S. Open Cup finals Tuesday night.
Sakiewicz said he had spoken to Marsch, Meola and Harkes "at length."
"They're all great candidates," he added.
League sources said that the Union has at least three foreign coaches on the list.
Sakiewicz said the Union was in no rush in finding a successor to Hackworth because the team wants o hire the right man in the job for the long term.
"No rush at all," Sakiewicz said. "Absolutely no rush."
He added: "Just really taking my time, getting to know people thoroughly."
The Union boss also was impressed with Curtin's performance on and off the field.
"We're in the hunt for one championship and trying to get into another," Sakiewicz said.
"Jim is doing a a terrific job. He is doing a really nice job, taking pressure off "of him and the organization.
"Not only the X's and O's, but a lot of the off field things, too," he added. "I'm very proud of him because he came through the organization as a youth coach.
Of the aforementioned trio, only Marsch has MLS head coaching experience, have guiding the Montreal Impact to a respectable 12-17-7 mark in its 2012 expansion season before he left the club due to a difference in philosophies. Marsch also was an assistant coach with the U.S. national team during Bob Bradley's tenure.
Meola and Harkes, who grew up together in Kearny, N.J., were mainstays of the U.S. National Team in the 1990s. Meola backstopped the USA in the 1990 and 1994 World Cups while Harkes was a midfield leader and captain of the team.
According to a league source, Meola impressed the Union management with his presentation and coaching acumen in his interview.
Harkes and Meola have expressed a desire to coach in MLS. Meola had put his hat into the ring when the Red Bulls looked for a successor to Hans Backe after the 2012 season. The Red Bulls picked then assistant coach and former New York defender Mike Petke as the new coach.
Sakiewicz said the Union had received more than 200 coaching resumes, about 30 percent from outside the United States and including 16 from Europe.
"I'm the most popular man around," he said. "I definitely have a lot more texts and emails than I did six weeks ago."
He has narrowed the list down to 12 names.
"I guess you could call it a short list," he said. "They're all great candidates."