Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Ernst Tanner, Red Bull Salzburg academy director, named new Union sporting director

Tanner has worked for Red Bull Salzburg as its academy director since 2012.

A view of Talen Energy Stadium, the home of the Philadelphia Union.
A view of Talen Energy Stadium, the home of the Philadelphia Union.Read moreTIM TAI/Staff file photo

The Union's new sporting director will be Ernst Tanner, who has spent the last five years as the director of Austrian club Red Bull Salzburg's academy.

He'll be introduced Thursday in a press conference at Talen Energy Stadium. According to sources, he won't officially start with the Union until mid-to-late September because of visa and immigration paperwork.

Tanner, a 51-year-old Germany native, has worked for Red Bull Salzburg as its academy director since 2012. The club has won Austria's league title in six of the last seven years, including the last five straight, and four straight Austrian cups. It hasn't reached the UEFA Champions League group stage during that span, falling in various qualifying rounds, but it did reach the second-tier Europa League semifinals this past season.

Perhaps the biggest accomplishment on Tanner's resume is winning the UEFA Youth League in the 2016-17 season. Among the clubs Salzburg beat on the way to the title were Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Atlético Madrid and Barcelona. One of the team's top scorers in the tournament, Hannes Wolf, made his senior team debut this past season and scored 12 goals in 45 games.

That track record was surely a big part of Tanner's appeal for the Union's ownership group. The team wants to develop talent from within the club's academy, and during Earnie Stewart's tenure saw five players graduate to the senior team. There are more pro prospects in the pipeline who are not far off. Tanner will be tasked with getting them to MLS.

If the Red Bull Salzburg name sounds familiar, that's because it's part of the same global conglomerate that includes Major League Soccer's New York Red Bulls. The organization also runs RB Leipzig in Germany's Bundesliga and a Red Bull-branded team in Brazil.

READ MORE: Union reach first U.S. Open Cup final in three years with 3-0 win over Chicago Fire

Before Tanner's time in Salzburg, he spent three seasons with German club TSG Hoffenheim. He started as the academy manager, then moved up to director of football and later became its CEO. Quite a few future big names moved through Hoffenheim during his tenure there, including Liverpool's Roberto Firmino, Everton's Gylfi Sigurdsson and Bayern Munich's David Alaba.

Tanner also has experience dealing with American players. While he was at Hoffenheim, the club brought over American youth prospects Russell Canouse and Joe Gyau. Hoffenheim also had Fabian Johnson and Danny Williams on its squad during Tanner's tenure, and both players made their U.S. national team debuts while at the club.

Tanner's first management job was director of 1860 Munich's academy from 2003 to 2009, and helped develop U.S. national team striker Bobby Wood during that time.

"Ernst comes to Philadelphia with a strong track record of methodology implementation as well as player development and recruitment," Union owner Jay Sugarman said in a statement. "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."