After waiting for two months for his immigration paperwork to clear, Union sporting director Ernst Tanner finally got into his office this week. But he has done plenty of work from afar since his unveiling in early August.
"The base here is good," the 51-year-old German said at a news conference Wednesday. "Sometimes you need to turn everything [over], but that will not be the case here."
Now he wants to take things to a higher level.
"First of all, we need to define how we would like to play," he said. "Second, we need to define what kind of players we need in order to perform, and in order to have the ability to play our style. And third, of course, and it's the most important part, we need to find them."
In saying that, Tanner answered one of soccer's biggest philosophical questions: Do you bring in players for a system, or fit a system to the players you have? He prefers the former.
"I'm a fan of more transition and more dynamic football, more proactive football," he said. "Take more use out of transition moments, which are very important in modern football now."
Indeed they are. Think of English club Liverpool, where German coach Jurgen Klopp deploys a high-flying attack. Or MLS's New York Red Bulls, known for soccer's equivalent of a full-court press.
Tanner will soon face a big decision about the Union's most important attacking player, Borek Dockal. Will the team negotiate to extend the Czech playmaker's loan here from Chinese club Henan Jianye, or perhaps try to buy him outt? Or if the asking price is too high, will Tanner use his renowned scouting skills to find someone else?
"Borek is a fantastic No. 10, and if we could continue [with him] it would be our first choice, of course," Tanner said. "But you know how the business is, and if it is not possible, we have our eyes open and could bring in somebody else."
Tanner spoke at length about the Union's youth academy, which has sent six players to the senior team in the last 2 1/2 half years. Defenders Mark McKenzie and Auston Trusty have been stalwarts in their first seasons in MLS.
"We have quite a high standard … probably among the top academies in the country," Tanner said. "It doesn't matter where you look to in the world, it is very seldom the case that you play with a 19- and a 20-year-old centerback. And they are not only playing, above all they are doing a great job."