Union sporting director Ernst Tanner explains trading draft picks

Ernst Tanner - Philadelphia Union - Talen Energy Stadium

Noting it’s an “unusual” strategy, Philadelphia Union sporting director Ernst Tanner explained the decision to trade away all of the club’s picks at the 2019 MLS SuperDraft to FC Cincinnati for up to $200,000 in General Allocation Money on Wednesday.

The Union owned the No. 13 overall pick, but when Tanner evaluated the talent pool at the MLS Combine, he saw that only eight of the players were below the age of 22, with six in Generation adidas. Tanner believes those players will be picked before the Union would make it to the podium.

“It’s a little bit unusual because probably nobody has done it before,” Tanner said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday night. “But I’m probably here to do it.”

Tanner said the Union “would not have benefitted very well from a 13th pick,” but the club’s flexibility increased with the GAM.

FC Cincinnati, he noted, are in a different situation as an expansion team.

“They are an expansion team who need to fill up their roster spots and we are in a stable situation where we have a good setup and a good infrastructure, and a second team and an academy behind us, which is extraordinarily good,” he said.

Tanner said part of the overall strategy with Bethlehem Steel is “to make them much younger and more prospects in the future.”

And with one of the top academies in MLS, Tanner believes there’s better prospects within the club than in college.

“The level of MLS has increased a lot and I think the level in the university has been more or less the same. There is quite a big gap,” Tanner said. “Out of what I’ve seen last year when I’d see the draft picks, there are a lot of players who are quite OK for the USL level. But it doesn’t necessarily make us better on the MLS level.”