On Tuesday night, the Philadelphia Union drew 1-1 with Atlanta United, which was good enough to win their Champion’s League series 4-1 on aggregate and advance to the tournament semifinal.
After the game, ATL manager Gabriel Heinze had words with Union head coach Jim Curtin, who then proceeded to call Heinze an “asshole” and “sore loser” in the press conference:
“I’m proud of the group for advancing. Again, I said it; he’s an incredible coach, he’s an incredible player, but you can still be, also, a sore loser and be an asshole at the end of the game. I still think there’s a right way. I think you should shake hands like men after the game. He’ll probably have something to say now that I’ve said that. But I’m not going to sit here and just take it.”
“I think there’s great American coaches in this league, there’s great foreign coaches in this league, and I don’t want to make anything more of it than that.”
Curtin intimated that Heinze was upset at the Union for wasting time and faking injuries at the end of the game, which did not seem egregious in my mind. There was some normal gamesmanship, but nothing that would be considered extraordinary in terms of bullshitting.
He was then asked a follow up about the comments at Thursday’s press conference, saying this:
Jim Curtin said a lot of people around MLS reached out to him to back him up on his comments about American coaches being often perceived as inferior by default to coaches who come to the league from abroad:https://t.co/5YD39H6bAq pic.twitter.com/gHHYFEXyP8
— Jonathan Tannenwald (@thegoalkeeper) May 6, 2021
There’s probably some truth to what Curtin is suggesting, that American managers sometimes don’t get the respect that foreign players-turned-managers receiver.
In this case, Heinze is a MLS newcomer, and an alumnus of PSG, Manchester United, and Real Madrid. He appeared 73 times for Argentina and his playing career is more profound than Curtin’s, which took place entirely within Major League Soccer. But in Curtin’s case, he worked his way through the Union youth ranks while earning his coaching licenses. Heinze took his first gig with Godoy Cruz in Argentina almost immediately after retiring, and without a license. So there’s always been kind of a lingering animosity between MLS lifers and some of the foreign guys who come here with stellar playing resumes but lesser experience in the coaching department.
Anyway, Heinze was asked about the confrontation and said this:
— Felipe Cárdenas (@FelipeCar) May 7, 2021
I like it. He apologized but threw shade and got a few snipes in. Heinze was a pretty feisty defender back in the day, and Curtin has a “take no shit” side that comes out only rarely. I appreciate the fact that both guys are supporting their players and calling it how they see it.
Now there’s some intrigue for the next time these teams play, which is June 20th in Atlanta.