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Ernst Tanner introduced as new Philadelphia Union sporting director

Tanner brings 24 years of European experience to the post

Ernst Tanner during his introductory press conference as the new Philadelphia Union sporting director on August 9, 2018
Matt Ralph

Out with Ernie, in with Ernst.

The Ernst Tanner era officially began on Thursday with the introduction of the 51-year-old German as the new sporting director for the Philadelphia Union.

Most recently with Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, Tanner brings experience both in scouting and developing young players through the European academy system and also as a front office executive. He has helped run the academy at TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and Red Bull Salzburg and also served as sporting director during his time at Hoffenheim. Prior to that he spent time at TSV 1860 Munich, starting out as a coach in 1994 and progressing to academy director in 1999.

Tanner was introduced to media and staff at the TruMark Financial Club at Talen Energy Stadium in a press conference that was also streamed live Thursday morning.

“It was always a desire of mine to go to the United States and that was the main reason I took the opportunity,” Tanner said, noting that he has visited the club four times since 2012. “Above all it’s a very familiar environment I’m stepping into and what I can say is we have a lot of good people working in the club.”

Jay Sugarman (left) with Ernst Tanner at the introductory press conference for the new Philadelphia Union sporting director on August 9, 2018
Matt Ralph

Minority owner Richie Graham reached out to Tanner about the job after Earnie Stewart was hired to be the general manager of the United States Men’s National Team.

“When I got approached by Richie I said ‘that’s exactly suited for me’,” Tanner said.

Union chairman and majority owner Jay Sugarman said Tanner’s track record developing, acquiring or selling some of the top talent in the game (players like Sebastian Rudy, Kevin Volland, Roberto Firmino, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Niklas Süle and U.S. international Fabian Johnson) and his connections not only in Europe but in places like Brazil and Colombia make him the right guy to succeed Stewart.

“What we’ve been trying to do very much follows what he’s been doing in his career,” Sugarman said.

Tanner attended the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup semifinal on Wednesday night and stopped by training on Thursday morning. He doesn’t officially start his position though until mid-to-late September when his immigration process is expected to be finalized.

“I look forward to really learning from Ernst and growing as a coach myself,” head coach Jim Curtin said. “It’s a perfect match. The three things Jay talked about when Earnie was here we set out to do it involved young players, it involved innovation and involved a real cohesive team and those are three things that Ernst brings.”