The Philadelphia Union announced Thursday morning the hiring of Red Bull Salzburg executive Ernst Tanner as the club’s sporting director.
The 51-year-old Tanner, replaces Earnie Stewart, who became the first general manager of the U.S. men’s national team this month.
A native of Traunstein, Germany, Tanner joins the Major League Soccer club following 24 years of technical experience with three European clubs: TSV 1860 Munich, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and Red Bull Salzburg.
As sporting director, Tanner will oversee and guide all Union technical and soccer-related decisions, working closely with the Union First Team, Bethlehem Steel FC and the Union Academy. He will start with the Union in mid-to-late September, following the completion of his duties with RB Salzburg as well as the finalization of the immigration process.
“I have followed the Union since the early days of the club, and over the past three seasons, there have obviously been many productive changes in terms of methodology and player development,” Tanner said. “I’m looking forward to utilizing my almost 25 years of experience and global player recruitment abilities to continue and forward the club’s trajectory. I also look forward to generating new ideas to advance the Union to even greater heights.”
Tanner has gained a reputation in the sport for his development, methodology, scouting and talent identification expertise, having played a key role in the discovery and/or development of professional talent playing in Europe today, including: Roberto Firmino, Kevin Volland, Sven Bender, Lars Bender, Niklas Süle, Sebastian Rudy, David Alaba, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Duje Caleta-Car and Sadio Mane.
His background includes time with the progressive Bundesliga club TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, known as one of the best academies in Germany, and more recently over the past six years, the oversight of the highly successful and innovative Red Bull Salzburg academy, which captured the prestigious UEFA Youth League championship in 2016-17.
“We are pleased to announce that Ernst Tanner will be the second Sporting Director in Philadelphia Union history,” said Union chairman/owner Jay Sugarman said. “Ernst comes to Philadelphia with a strong track record of methodology implementation as well as player development and recruitment. He has worked for successful clubs at the highest level in Europe, signing and nurturing premier level talent at every stop. Coupled with his impressive worldwide soccer network and scouting acumen, we believe that Ernst is the perfect leader to continue building and improving upon the promising foundation we have established.”