In an interview with MLS Italia, Ernst Tanner mentioned difficulties with the process of signing foreign players in this transfer window. Tanner shares Union’s struggle, citing the pandemic as a hindrance to the process of signing new players. As the Union is barreling toward preseason, it looks as though there may not be any foreign signings coming to Chester.
Tanner shares Union’s struggle
Tanner shed light on the current state of affairs for the Union when answering a question about if he would want to sign any Italian DPs, or if had been in contact with any Italian players, or the ideal Italian player he’d want to sign. Here was Ernst’s answer:
“We are not likely spending for DPs but spending our money for the academy and development. It’s also not easy to put a guy with multi million contract in the locker with someone making 70k a year. There were a couple of interesting players in the Juventus U23, but right now we have problems with the foreigns, since the pandemic started the green card process almost stopped. And now that we lost 2 highly talented American players is difficult to replace them.”Ernst Tanner via MLS Italia
This shows that there is a big problem for Philadelphia when it comes to signing foreign players, and it’s not even necessarily a financial issue. To paint the full picture, let’s look at the off-season expectations set by Ernst, dive into the issues the Union is having, and discuss if the Union will be able to sign any foreign player before their 2021 season and CCL campaign kicks off.
Back at the beginning of December, Ernst Tanner spoke about the strength of the current roster and needing to upgrade certain positions. This was no doubt referring to the squad’s efforts to win the 2020 supporters shield. As well as needing to fill the holes in quality left by losing two best XI MLS players.
In the press conference, Tanner spoke about adding an attacking midfielder and center back that could compete for starting roles. He also mentioned possibly adding more players as well, as it’s always good to add players ahead of a season. Now, two months later we have heard of a snag that is stopping the Union from doing the business they want to do.
Union finding issues with Green Card process
The problem the Union is running into has to do with the green card process and international roster spots. Every team in MLS is able to have eight international roster spots, but those spots can be traded to other teams for compensation. Right now, Philadelphia has eight international players on their rosters and no international spots available for new players. The way around this would be for the players on the current roster with the international designation to receive a green card. This is where the snag is occurring.
Tanner mentioned that since the start of the pandemic the process for Union players to acquire green cards has been difficult. This delay is the core reason why there have been no players added. Tanner’s plan for the offseason can’t move forward without this process. He said he had a real interest in players too, which makes this process even worse. As we move closer toward the start of the 2021 competitive season, will the Union be able to figure out this process and sign players?
Will there be any foreign signings?
Let’s say that the Union is able to figure out this green card process. Would they then be able to find the right type of player to join Philly before the start of the 2021 season? I’m sure Tanner ill still want to. He’s not one to set goals and not achieve them. We’ll have to wait and see what happens here, but this problem does need to be seen by fans.
A lot of fans have seen this MLS Italia article and have felt hard done because Ernst Tanner said the Union wouldn’t be in on signing a DP player. It was clear that Tanner is not high on spending a lot of money on just one player. He said that they don’t mesh well in MLS style locker rooms where there is a huge salary disparity. This is hard to hear, but it’s okay if Tanner can make other signings as he has in past off-seasons. Because of this green card issue, Tanner has not been able to make the normal signings he usually does.
If one or more Union international players can get a green card, then we will likely see Tanner act swiftly. He knows that this team needs at least two more players to make up for the loss of Aaronson and McKenzie. For now, we have to sit and speculate if things will get done. If/when a green card is announced there will likely be a foreign signing announced not too far after.
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