With the Union on a two-game winning streak and facing the talented New York Red Bulls Saturday, talk around MLS should be about the team's opportunity to become a factor in the Eastern Conference.
Instead, the attention has been on sporting director Earnie Stewart.
"The club's made a statement regarding Earnie," Union manager Jim Curtin said during Thursday's press conference at Talen Energy Stadium. "We're incredibly fortunate to have him here."
Stewart, 49, who is in his third season at the Union helm and has 101 caps for the U.S. men's national team, has been a known candidate for the national squad's open general manager position. But on Wednesday, New York's Metro reported that Stewart is the "likely favorite" and "in negotiations" for the role.
The team's statement was roughly, "No comment."
"For him to be in the conversation with U.S. soccer speaks to the pedigree and quality that he has," Curtin said. "I can't speculate or talk about what if this happens or this. I try to stay in the moment. Earnie is our leader and a guy who is focused on us beating the Red Bulls. That's where we stand."
With 23 games left in the season, news of Stewart's potential departure is a surprising turn of events for the Union, who have just recently witnessed success by claiming back-to-back wins following a lengthy winless streak.
Still, the 4-5-2 club is on pace for its third consecutive 11-14-9 season. Under Stewart, the Union are a paltry 26-33-20, with one playoff appearance. But despite news breaking prior to the important match against the 7-3-0 Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena, Curtin waved off any potential distraction.
"Conversations come up all the time during the course of the year," he said. "There's always reports and talented people get talked about a lot in the soccer world. Earnie is no different. He's very good at what he does and with that brings attention from other areas."
If Stewart, who played in three World Cups for the U.S., were offered and accepts the USMNT GM position, it would be a natural fit. The Dutch-American midfielder left a personnel position at AZ Alkmaar, and likely turned down opportunities in Europe, to join the Union, where he was able to get his foot in the door of American soccer.
Now it appears like the top of the nation's soccer mountain is within his grasp.
"That's pro sports," Curtin said. "People who have a lot to offer are hot commodities and Earnie is one because he's very good at what he does."