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Union plans to hire director to oversee all soccer operations

Union sets no timetable, but wants to make front-office hiring to help boost all aspects of the team's soccer operations.

A WEEK after Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz pledged the club would develop the optimal management structure for its first team and youth academy, chairman/owner Jay Sugarman unveiled a key detail in that plan.

The Union plans to hire a permanent sporting director to "oversee and elevate all our soccer operations," Sugarman revealed yesterday. The sporting director will report directly to ownership and feature someone "with deep experience in player development, player evaluation and player performance at both the youth and championship levels," Sugarman said.

Sugarman didn't commit to a timetable to make the hire but said as soon as the club identifies the right person for the role, it would fill it. In the meantime, head coach Jim Curtin and technical director Chris Albright will have final say on personnel decisions. They will be assisted by Rene Meulensteen, whom the Union yesterday introduced as a consultant for the crucial offseason decisions that loom.

Meulensteen, best known for the 12 seasons he spent on the staff with Manchester United, will commute from his home in England, but said he would mainly consult on site from Philadelphia. In addition to his role with the Chester-based club, Meulensteen, 50, has media obligations in England. He spent last season coaching Fulham FC, of the Barclays Premier League.

"I think the roster is in general strong enough to compete and compete with the best," he said. "If Jim and Chris and my advice can help to just add that extra little bit of quality that makes that extra difference in certain positions, I think they're on the right way. The most important job for me, I think, is to help them to create an elite high-performance climate and environment."