MLS Insider: Tom Bogert

Philadelphia Union's Ernst Tanner named 2022 MLS Sporting Executive of the Year

Ernst Tanner PHI 1

Philadelphia Union sporting director Ernst Tanner is the 2022 MLS Sporting Executive of the Year, the league announced in Monday's 2022 Mark Abbott MLS Club Awards release.

The Union are coming off their best season in club history. Accomplishments include:

  • Eastern Conference winners
  • Second in the Supporters' Shield race to LAFC on a tiebreaker (both on 67 points)
  • Reaching Philadelphia's first-ever MLS Cup Final, where they fell on penalties to LAFC
  • MLS-best four players on the 2022 MLS Best XI presented by Continental Tire, including MLS Defender of the Year Jakob Glesnes and Allstate MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Andre Blake
  • Second-best goal differential (+46) in MLS history
  • MLS-leading 15 shutouts

Key incomings in 2022

This year, the low-spending Union made a few key transactions to reach the East's summit. Philadelphia acquired forward Julian Carranza from Inter Miami CF, originally on loan with a purchase option, which was triggered in the summer for just $500,000 in General Allocation Money.

Carranza was seldom-used in two years with Miami, then blossomed with a career-best 2022 campaign of 14 goals and nine assists. The Argentine was among the best defensive forwards in the league, ranking in the 99th percentile among MLS forwards in tackles per 90 minutes and the 87th percentile in ball recoveries, a perfect fit in the Union's pressing system.

Philly also signed forward Mikael Uhre from Danish Superliga side BrΓΈndby IF for a club-record fee. Uhre had 13 goals and six assists in 1,633 minutes. He was in the 96th percentile among MLS forwards for non-penalty goals per 90 minutes and was in the 99th percentile in goal-creating actions. Per 90 stats are via FBRef.com.

Key outgoings in 2022

As for outgoings, the Union created space for those moves by trading away striker Kacper Przybylko to Chicago Fire FC for $1.15 million in GAM. Przybylko was Tanner's first signing, arriving as a free agent as injuries threatened to derail his career.

The Union also transferred out homegrown attacker Paxten Aaronson to German Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt. Aaronson couldn't break into the team for regular minutes, but the rising US youth international was still transferred for $4 million up front (with incentives) and the Union retain a big sell-on clause.

Aaronson's departure was the third-largest transfer in club history, following US internationals Brenden Aaronson (to Austria's Red Bull Salzburg) and Mark McKenzie (to Belgium's KRC Genk) in 2020. Both of those homegrown moves were under Tanner's leadership as well.

Other outgoing moves include midfielder Jamiro Monteiro being traded to San Jose, striker Sergio Santos being traded to FC Cincinnati, homegrown Jack de Vries making a permanent move to Italian Serie B side Venezia FC and center back Stuart Findlay joining Oxford United in England's third tier.

Tanner's impact

Philadelphia have been near the top of the East since Tanner took over toward the end of the 2018 season. The Union won their first-ever trophy in 2020 (Supporters' Shield), advanced to the Concacaf Champions League semifinals in 2021 and made their first-ever MLS Cup final in 2022.

The club has been known for finding value and keen talent identification to bring in the likes of Kai Wagner, Jose Martinez, Jakob Glesnes, Leon Flach, Daniel Gazdag and more over the last few years. Stalwarts like head coach Jim Curtin, goalkeeper Andre Blake, captain Alejandro Bedoya and center back Jack Elliott have signed new contracts as well.

Before joining Philadelphia, the German-born executive logged 24 years of technical experience with three European clubs: TSV 1860 Munich, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and Red Bull Salzburg.

All recipients

Among the 2022 Mark Abbott MLS Club Awards, Austin FC president Andy Loughnane was named Doug Hamilton Executive of the Year. The club has sold out every regular season and playoff home match over the last two years after entering MLS and led the league in season ticket renewals at 96%.

Below are the full winners of the 2022 Mark Abbott MLS Club Awards:

  • Doug Hamilton Executive of the Year – Andy Loughnane, Austin FC
  • Sporting Executive of the Year – Ernst Tanner, Philadelphia Union
  • Academy of the Year – Philadelphia Union
  • Administrator of the Year – Josh Gros, Philadelphia Union
  • Communications Team of the Year – Austin FC
  • Corporate Partnership Activation of the Year – New York City FC
  • Corporate Partnership Team of the Year – Toronto FC
  • Digital and Social Media Team of the Year – Philadelphia Union
  • Digital Content Activation of the Year – San Jose Earthquakes
  • eMLS Team of the Year – Atlanta United
  • Equipment Manager of the Year – Brandon Comisky, Philadelphia Union
  • Inclusion and Impact of the Year – Seattle Sounders FC
  • Marisa Colaiano Community Relations Team of the Year – New England Revolution
  • Marketing Initiative of the Year – Seattle Sounders FC
  • Marketing Team of the Year – Austin FC
  • Medical Staff of the Year – Austin FC
  • Operations Team of the Year – Nashville SC
  • Retail Team of the Year – Los Angeles FC
  • Strategy and Business Intelligence Team of the Year – Nashville SC
  • Ticket Sales Initiative of the Year – Houston Dynamo
  • Ticket Sales Team of the Year – Austin FC
  • Security Team of the Year – Sporting Kansas City
  • Supporter Management Team of the Year – New York City FC