Philadelphia Union Sporting Director Ernst Tanner sat down with Jim Curtin and the media on Friday as the team held its end-of-season press conference. Tanner, who has been with the club since August 2018, looked back on the best season in Union history. However, he is not focusing too much on the past as Philadelphia prepares for one of their biggest offseasons.
With household names looking likely to leave in the winter, it could see a mini-rebuild begin with the Tanner needing to ensure that he has a squad big and strong enough to compete on all three fronts with the Union's return to continental football.
Thanking the supporters:
First and foremost, I want to thank everybody. Of course, the coaches, our front office and everybody that was involved in that big success. Above all, our fans. It was really overwhelming to see how many people were following us to New York, for instance, and it was extremely pleasant to have a couple of thousand guys from Philadelphia in LA. I need to say I'm very thankful for that.
Looking at what the team achieved:
You know all the records, I don't need to speak about that. We achieved it over the course of the season. You know how many goals we scored, how many players we had in the best XI and a couple of other significant awards we earnt.
This season is really hard to top. You can probably only top it if you win the MLS Cup, and that's what we probably need to go for next season, again.
Transfer business during the offseason:
We need to do something, obviously. We are ahead of a big challenging season, playing in four different competitions next year. Part of them overlap, and then you face some international competition with our national teams in addition. We are probably going to have a player pool consisting of 27 or 28 players. That's how we will react.
We're going to sign a centre back; that's clear. We're going to sign an additional midfielder and probably sign somebody for the attack as well.
We will replace positionally if we lose guys.
On Paxten Aaronson:
He is a player who is incredibly hard-working. He's a little bit unlucky because if you have a guy in the position that you are best in who is scoring 20+ goals in the season and is in the discussion for MVP, then it is not that easy. Every time he went on, he was really good. There are clubs that are focussing on young talent and that they can develop. With [Eintracht] Frankfurt, their first discussions started last year, and they were following him. They were even over here following him. They know about the potential.
It's early for him, but at the same time, I'm happy that he's taking the challenge. Frankfurt is a good club and a good place with excellent coaches.
He should now more or less do his integration over there and try to get as much playing time as possible. They have a situation where they're still in the cup and the Champions League. They almost have 20 league games left, so it's going to be busy.
I think that it's a good move for him and for Philadelphia, hopefully as well.
The backup to Daniel Gazdag ahead of the new season:
Why shouldn't Quinny [Sullivan] be the person who is doing that? There's a little bit of difference in the ages as he's a year younger than Paxten, but he's a little bit taller.
Tactical approach next season:
The principals will not change. That's the good news. The formations might change sometimes if you do a different tactic. It could be like when you're travelling to Seattle from Miami on two days' rest, you might need to change how you approach the game a little bit, and that's where flexibility helps you.
Signing Richard Odada and Abasa Aremeyaw:
We signed them clearly for the next season because there was an opportunity that we could get them over. We knew that it would take us some time, and it took really long with Abasa. It's unfair to evaluate somebody right now. They need to do a pre-season, and we talked to them, and we gave them the right advice on how they should approach that.
They will get their chances. In particular, Richard has shown already in his few games in the second team and against the Mexican team what he is capable of doing.