Philadelphia Union confirm Jim Curtin will return as manager in 2018

Sporting director Earnie Stewart confirmed the return of Jim Curtin as Philadelphia Union manager for the 2018 season, but the team declined its option on former United States midfielder Maurice Edu.

Curtin, 38, led the Union to the playoffs in the 2016 season, but this year's campaign did not go so well. After going winless in its first eight matches, Curtin got the Union back on track and had an outside shot of reaching the postseason before finishing eighth in the Eastern Conference.

Speaking at the team's end-of-season news conference, Stewart said: "I think he's a big part of this foundation that we've laid down. When we talk about progress, I think the system-based approach and the stability of a good organization, continuity is very, very important.

"And I think that has shown this season and in a time where everybody thought we were down and out, we were at one point in a position to once again get back into the playoffs -- and that is a great credit to Jim and his coaching staff.

"So I'm very pleased with that, and very pleased that he will be back."

Curtin was grateful to be given the chance to stay on for a fourth year as Union boss and thanked Stewart for getting his back through good times and bad with the club.

"I think back to the support that I got in the hardest time," Curtin said. "I think that's when you learn the most about people and Earnie backed me in the hardest time of my young coaching career -- that was the beginning of the season when we lost games.

"There's very few people that you can trust and Earnie is a guy that I trust, that I believe in. I will be loyal to him forever."

On the player front, Philadelphia made numerous announcements on Wednesday, including the one about Edu. The former Rangers and Toronto FC man was loaned to the Union from English side Stoke in 2014 and spent the better part of the next four years in Philadelphia.

In all, Edu played 61 matches for the Union, producing six goals and three assists during his time at the club.

Philadelphia also has not picked up options for midfielders Fabian Herbers, Ilsinho and Roland Alberg, forward Charlie Davies and defenders Oguchi Onyewu, Ken Tribbet, Giliano Wijnaldum and Aaron Jones on Wednesday.

The Union also announced the club picked up options for Andre Blake, John McCarthy, Jake McGuire, Jack Elliott, Raymon Gaddis, Keegan Rosenberry, Warren Creavalle, Marcus Epps, Derrick Jones, Adam Najem and Fafa Picault.

Meanwhile, U.S. international Alejandro Bedoya, Haris Medunjanin, Anthony Fontana, CJ Sapong, Jay Simpson, Richie Marquez, Auston Trusty and Josh Yaro will stay on with the club, as they were already on guaranteed contracts for 2018.