Union wait as Earnie Stewart, U.S. national team keep talking

Many signs point toward Union sporting director Earnie Stewart’s getting the job as U.S. men’s national team general manager, but the deal is not done yet.

Stewart was at the Union’s practice Thursday and walked by reporters as he left the field, but didn’t say anything. The team did not make him available, sticking by Wednesday’s statement that it “will decline further comment until a final decision has been made.”

Jim Curtin, however, was not as restrained.

“Conversations come up all the time during the course of a year,” he said. “Talented people get talked about a lot in the soccer world, and Earnie is no different. … People that have a lot to offer are hot commodities, and I would say that Earnie is because he’s very good at what he does.”

Asked if the rumors are a distraction for the team, Curtin said they are not, but he hasn’t hidden anything from the players.

“The players understand and they see things, but everybody has remained focused,” he said. “At this time, anything further is really just speculation and we can’t really talk that way. We have to be focused on the now. You could do the what-if game: What if this happens, what if I get hit by a SEPTA bus?”

New York’s Metro newspaper broke the news Wednesday that Stewart was the front-runner for the job. ESPN reported that New York City FC sporting director Claudio Reyna is the other top candidate. He was U.S. Soccer’s youth technical director from 2010 to 2014.

Reyna and Stewart were national team colleagues for many years, including at the 1998 and 2002 World Cups.

U.S. Open Cup draw set

The Union learned that their first U.S. Open Cup game of the year will be a home contest against the Richmond Kickers of the second-division USL. It will be in the fourth round of the tournament, the round when all eligible MLS teams enter the field.

The match will take place on June 5th at 7 p.m.

If the Union win, they’ll play D.C. United or the USL’s North Carolina FC in the fifth round. The home team will be determined later.

All-Star Game nominees

The Union’s nominees for this year’s MLS All-Star Game are goalkeeper Andre Blake; defenders Keegan Rosenberry and Auston Trusty; midfielders David Accam, Alejandro Bedoya, Borek Dockal and Haris Medunjanin; and forward C.J. Sapong.

Each team in MLS gets eight players on the leaguewide ballot. Fans pick 11 of the 24 players on the team: 10 through online voting and one through playing EA Sports’ popular FIFA soccer video game. Voting will be held exclusively through MLS’s mobile and tablet apps until June 8, then open on the league’s website.

The All-Stars will face Italian giant Juventus at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Aug. 1.

Atlanta United manager Gerardo Martino will choose most of the rest of the players and coach the team. MLS commissioner Don Garber also gets a few picks, usually big-name stars not voted in by fans.

Union at New York Red Bulls

Saturday at 7 p.m., Red Bull Arena, Harrison, N.J.

TV: PHL17

Union’s record: 4-5-2, 14 points (seventh in the East); 1-4-0 on the road
New York’s record: 7-3-0, 21 points (fourth in the West); 4-1-0 at home

Series history: Red Bulls 14 wins, Union 8 wins, 4 ties
At Red Bull Arena: Red Bulls 9 wins, Union 2 wins, 2 ties

Red Bulls players to watch

M Tyler Adams: A dynamic box-to-box midfielder, he’s expected to play after a knee injury scare last weekend. Afterward, he’ll join the U.S. national team’s June tour of Europe — and could be sold to Germany’s RB Leipzig later this summer.

M Alejandro “Kaku” Romero Gamarra: New York paid a $6.25 million transfer fee for the Argentine playmaker, and he has been worth the money. He has nine assists and three goals so far this year.

F Bradley Wright-Phillips: The Englishman is tied atop MLS’ scoring chart with eight goals. He had two in New York’s 3-1 upset win at Atlanta United last Sunday.