According to a report from Tom Bogert of the Athletic, The Philadelphia Union has signed Sporting Director Ernst Tanner to a new contract with the club!
Tanner has been with Philadelphia for almost six seasons now, and his imprint on this team has brought nothing but triumphs. With his contract coming to an end at the conclusion of the 2023 season, it was only a matter of time before Philly struck a deal with someone so influential to the Club’s successes. Now it seems as though we will see an official statement from the Union in the very near future.
You may be thinking, why is this so important? To answer that question we need to look at just what Tanner has brought to this MLS team that is playing money ball to compete with teams bringing in huge stars, and expensive players to compete for trophies.
Philadelphia Union has flourished thanks to Tanner’s leadership
When Ernst Tanner came to Philadelphia the Union had never won a playoff game. It was the Union’s ninth season of existence, and they had made the playoffs just twice. The team had no playoff wins and was mediocre. Tanner may have joined the team at the end of the 2018 season, but the team did qualify for playoffs that season and made the US Open Cup Final. After bitter defeats in both, Tanner focused on working with head coach Jim Curtin to create a true style of play for this team that would bring success.
In 2019 this happened as the team shifted to a selective high-pressing system of play normally functioning out of a 4-4-2 diamond formation. That season Philly made the playoffs, got their first-ever playoff win but fell in the conference semifinals.
A year later in 2020, things clicked for this side. Even though it was a shortened season because of the pandemic, Philadelphia was the best team in the league winning their first trophy the Supporters Shield. After winning the Shiled, the team stalled and fell in the first round of the playoffs.
While many teams fall off after winning a major trophy, this was not the case for Tanner’s team in 2021. Philadelphia made it all the way to the semifinals in the Concacaf Champions League. They also made its first playoff run, hosting the conference final. One win away from playing for MLS Cup, the team had an outbreak of Covid and fell to the eventual MLS Champions NYCFC 2-1.
Once again there was no hangover for the Union in 2022. Philly was tied for the top spot in all of MLS but lost out on the Supporters Shield because of a win’s tiebreaker falling the way of LAFC. Philly took their strong season form into the playoffs making it to MLS Cup for the first time ever. After a thriller of a game, the Union fell in penalty kicks to LAFC.
This year, Philly has looked to progress under Tanner’s structure. Once again they made a run to the Concacaf Champions League semifinals, and they are currently sitting fourth in all of MLS. Because of Tanner’s structure and ability to sign diamond-in-the-rough players to fit Philly’s system, his extension keeps the core of this team intact for years to come.
Philly’s Core will be in place for years to come
The Union is now one of MLS’s best teams, yet they don’t go out and spend crazy amounts of money signing big-name players. Tanner’s approach is to find players that are young (usually low-to-mid-20s) that fit the ethos of Philadelphia.
Tanner has a very good track record bringing in players that make an impact for Philadelphia; he’s brought in: Kacper Przybylko, Jamiro Monteiro, Jose Martinez, Jakob Glesnes, Daniel Gazdag, Leon Flach, Mikael Uhre, Julian Carranza, and now possibly another new striker: Tai Baribo.
Not only can he find good players, he can help develop them too. Under Tanner: Mark McKenzie, Brenden Aaronson, Paxten Aaronson, Jack McGlynn, Quinn Sullivan, Nathan Harriel, and Brandan Craig have all come into play with the first team as teenage homegrown players.
This Union side is well equipped with Tanner at the helm to get the type of players Philly needs to be successful for years to come. Now that head coach Jim Curtin has a contract extension until 2026, and six influential starters (Uhre, Blake, Elliot, Gazdag, Glesnes, and Martinez) are under contract for the next few seasons, we could see this club continue to rise above expectations as a Moneyball team that puts the team over individual success time and time again!
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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union