Yesterday, January 25th 2019, Philadelphia Union Sporting Director Ernst Tanner and Chief Business Officer Tim McDermott answered fans questions on a Facebook Live Q&A.
The event was held on a Friday afternoon where the two decision makers addressed areas of concern around the club. Entering their 10th season, the Union have no playoff wins, and the perception of success differs between the club and the fans. The business side of the club addressed the fans questions and concerns on the Facebook Live event. Here’s a recap of the major points.
Most of the questions posed toward Ernst Tanner were about signings. He addressed them well saying what he’s said for the last few weeks. The Union are in talks with multiple players, and will hopefully have more reinforcements soon. Tanner did well fielding the questions. Many fans asked Tanner if these possible players would be coming in this transfer window or the summer window. Tanner quickly responded that these signings are meant for this window. He noted that while the team right now is better than it was last year, that the team still needs to add more players to get them to where they want to be.
The Playmaker role & style of play:
— Tim Lovenguth (@Tim_Lovenguth) January 25, 2019
The questions for tanner kept on rolling with a question about the playmaker role. This question came after one for Tim McDermott about the mascots Phang involvement in 2019. Tanner jokingly said maybe Phang should be the Union’s new playmaker. After some laughs he started talking again about how there is a possible signing that could fix this problem, but he also stated that the true playmaker of this team will be their counter-pressing style.
This brought up another question about what sort of style the Union will play. Tanner gave his traditional answer of a high paced possession with a purpose, and counter-pressing when not on the ball, style. Tanner is really counting on the whole 11 players to be players who make plays. This way the team does not solely rely on one playmaker to create all the offense, which is most of what Borek Dockal did last season.
The Rosenberry and the SuperDraft trade:
Questions kept on coming from Tanner, one of the most popular questions was about the decision to trade Keegan Rosenberry. Tanner addressed it well and in the same manner that he did right when the trade happened. He felt that Keegan was a great player who was coming into the last year of his contract. After evaluating the depth at the right back position, he felt comfortable to lean on Oliver Mbaizo and have Ray Gaddis as depth. This meant he could shop Rosenberry to try to get value for him, rather than have him walk for free in a year. Colorado offered a deal, and the Union took it.
Tanner also addressed trading away all the 2019 SuperDraft picks. This lead Ernst to talk about the talent in the academy. He spoke of the players who have made it through the system to the first team, and how Bethlehem Steel FC are a great stepping stone for the academy products to show their worth. It would not make sense to block those players, like the recently signed Ben Ofeimu.
Bethlehem Steel FC moving forward:
Speaking of Bethlehem Steel FC, Tim McDermott addressed many fan questions about Steel FC and their future. McDermott did a good job recapping how he went to Bethlehem to talk to the fans there about how the club has to play in Chester this season. He elaborated that he’s been searching for a location in the Lehigh Valley that meets the new USL Championship qualifications, and that they hope to find a spot this season.
While there is no guarantee that Steel FC will be back in the Lehigh Valley, it really seems like it would the club is trying to rectify a botched situation. I hope for the sake the East End Army, and the rest of the faithful fans in the Lehigh Valley get their team back in 2020. If not, then a rebrand needs to happen.
Possible game in Philadelphia for the 10th season:
Tim McDermott was asked about the possibility for a special game in the city of Philadelphia as a special event for the club’s 10th season. He went on to answer that there may be a possibility that the Union play an US Open Cup Match in the city, likely at Franklin Field. A game at the old stadium would be a cool way for the team to promote themselves in the city. However the field conditions, and the fact that US Open Cup games are on week-nights may make it hard for their to be much buzz.
A pressing question asked by fans was about the jersey sponsorship. Many fans want Bimbo gone based on the misunderstanding of the name. McDermott answered the question saying he was happy that they were able to alter the color scheme of the Bimbo logo on the jerseys. He also went on to say that the negotiations with Bimbo are underway for a contract extension, but he also says that oppertunities for other sponsors would be welcome
This event shows the Union are open to dialogue, but that won’t sway fans jumping ship:
While this was a great way for the Union to create a dialogue between the clubs business decision makers and their fans, this alone would not be enough to help fans from jumping ship. jay Sugarman is still the owner, the Union still will not spend money on a superstar, and the club seems likely to finish in either the last playoff spot or lower in 2019. This Facebook Live event is a good first step to show themselves after years where Earnie Stewart kept doors tightly closed. Unfortunately, Philadelphia fans want to see a successful team, and with Jay Sugarman at the helm, that seems very unlikely.
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Peace out Union fans!
Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union