“We’re going to sign a center back, that’s clear.” Ernst Tanner said with an assured smile only nine minutes into Philadelphia Union’s 2022 End of Season Press Conference.
“We are going to sign probably an additional midfielder,” the Union’s Sporting Director continued. “And we are probably to sign someone for attack as well.”
The greatest MLS Cup in league history – a thrilling, heartbreaking affair – was barely in his rearview mirror, and Tanner was already crystal clear on what the Eastern Conference Champions needed to do before the 2023 season kicked off.
18 days later he began making good on his promises. With such a remarkable track record of bringing in players that fit the Union’s front-foot, aggressive philosophy, Tanner knew where to look for his targets. Returning to the Sunshine State, where he pried hidden gem Julian Carranza off of Inter Miami CF’s books the previous offseason, Tanner acquired 22-year-old midfielder Andrés Perea from Orlando City SC for $450k in 2023 General Allocation Money and $300k 2024 GAM.
One box checked.
The holidays and new year came and went quietly, but Tanner and his scouts remained active in the hunt for the other pieces they needed to fill out a roster that could compete on four fronts in 2023. When preseason began, Tanner reminded the media of his original plan. Depth was key for a successful season, and Head Coach Jim Curtin echoed that message after the team’s first training session, hammered home that the Boys in Blue will be contending for every piece of tournament hardware available.
When the Union jetted off to Florida to continue the preseason, Tanner pounced on his next target. The U20 FIFA World Cup is taking place in Indonesia this year, and homegrown defender Brandan Craig is likely to miss part of the Union’s campaign when called up to represent the United States. A reliable centerback with experience in MLS was necessary, and one was available in Miami. 29 year old defender Damion Lowe, who once played locally in Reading, came aboard to solidify the club’s defensive depth.
Second box? Checked.
Like a chessmaster, Tanner was already working on next move, adding attacking piece Joaquin Torres. While the Union kicked off the preseason in style with a 3-2 win over Austin FC and an energetic 2-2 draw against St. Louis CITY SC, the club was also executing off the pitch, and the 26-year-old Argentinian arrived from CF Montreal on January 26 in exchange for $500,000 in GAM.
Check. Check. Check. Three pieces needed, three pieces acquired.
The Union may not be done building out their roster, but Ernst Tanner has fulfilled the promises he made when the 2022 season ended. Philly has more depth and flexibility as they steam toward their home opener on February 25 at Subaru Park. Now the coaches and the fans get to welcome the newest members of the Union family to the biggest party in Philly.