Jim Curtin Talks Union Offseason: Free Agents, Trades & More

Jim Curtin isn't getting much rest this offseason.

"It's work, there's no real offseason anymore in our game," the second-year Union manager said in an exclusive interview with CSNPhilly.com. "There's a lot of player discussions, contract decisions that have gone on. We feel like we have a strong core of guys, so it's a process of piecing together the roster."

That roster piecing will officially begin Monday, one day after the MLS Cup. That's when the window opens and teams can begin dealing. The Union reportedly made an early splash by trading allocation money to D.C. United for veteran winger Chris Pontius in a deal that is expected to be announced early next week (see story).

"We've had really open conversations and [sporting director Earnie Stewart] preposed how we want to play and how a Philadelphia Union team should look," Curtin said. "We're going to piece together players and scout players in a way that meets those standards."

One player on the club's radar is free-agent defensive mid Jeff Larentowicz. The West Chester native and 11-year MLS vet is fresh on the market and one of the many players on the Union's offseason wish list.

"It's definitely an option we are exploring, for sure," Curtin said. "But at the same time, we have to do what makes the most sense for our roster."

Should the deal land, Larentowicz could fit in as an upgrade at defensive holding midfielder for a Union team that leaned heavily on Brian Carroll in 2015. Curtin is eager for veterans with the ability and experience to slow the game down.

"Jeff's a friend of mine," Curtin said. "He's had a great career and has some years left in the tank. He's a winner and he fits the mold of when you're looking to close out games, something we've struggled with, he's a guy you could point to for leadership.

"He's not my player but I've always looked at Jeff as a great defensive midfielder."

Yet, while free agency and international pickups will be the primary source of the Union's roster overhaul, the team hasn't ruled out a player-for-player trade. As Curtin noted, every option is on the table.

"It's not out of the question that something does eventually go through but nothing is 100 percent right now," Curtin said. "There's been some interesting [offers]. Stuff gets thrown around but until things happen, it's speculation."

If there is a trade, it could feature Union assist leader Cristian Maidana, who has value after finishing one helper behind MLS MVP Sebastian Giovinco for the MLS assist lead.

Maidana, 28, is believed to be a movable object for the Union, who view newcomer Tranquillo Barnetta has a high-caliber center attack midfielder. Maidana played just 45 minutes in the team's final two games in 2015.

"He's a good player, Cristian is a really good player," Curtin said. "From there, we'll see. We didn't make the playoffs, so we're open to listening and exploring things. We'll see where it lands."

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