Dániel Gazdag officially joins the Union after winning the Hungarian league’s player of the season award
Union sporting director Ernst Tanner spent a long time pursuing Gazdag, with help from one of the player's former coaches whom Tanner has known for a decade.
Union sporting director Ernst Tanner prides himself on finding talented players in corners of the soccer world where big clubs aren’t paying as much attention.
He also has a Rolodex to rival any in the sport, and makes use of it when he wants to know more about players he’s scouting.
In bringing Dániel Gazdag to Philadelphia, Tanner made use of all his tools.
Yes, it took a while to get the deal done; Tanner said Thursday that Gazdag would have been here already if his Hungarian club, Honvéd of Budapest, hadn’t been in a relegation fight.
But by the time he suits up for the Union, a lot more people are probably going to know his name.
On Wednesday, Gazdag was named the Hungarian league’s player of the season for his role in helping save Honvéd, one of the country’s most famous teams, from going down. In a few weeks, he’ll play for Hungary’s national team at the European Championship, in a group with star-studded Portugal, France, and Germany — the first two of whom will face the Magyars in Budapest.
Hungary’s squad will include a trio from German power RB Leipzig: star playmaker Dominik Szoboslai, centerback Willi Orbán and goalkeeper Péter Gulásci. It could also include FC Dallas forward Szabolcs Schön, who moved to MLS this month from MTK Budapest.
Tanner has been scouting Hungarian clubs for talent since well before the Union hired him three years ago. His connections there include former Honvéd manager Tamás Bódog, who was in charge for the first half of this past season.
From 2012-15, Bódog was an assistant at Leipzig while Tanner ran sibling club Red Bull Salzburg’s youth academy. Their friendship goes back to 2010, when Tanner was German club TSG Hoffenheim’s director of football and met Bódog on a scouting trip in Hungary.
“I trust him,” Tanner said. “You get a better impression, in addition to what you see mainly in these times via video, when you can talk to his former coach. And Tamás is certainly not telling me lies.”
Gazdag also did his share of homework, learning about MLS from Sporting Kansas City’s Hungarian winger Dániel Sálloi and former centerback Botond Bárath. The latter was a teammate at Honvéd before moving to MLS in 2019. They gave strong recommendations.
“Although I had multiple other opportunities in Europe, I think that MLS is a very well-developing league,” Gazdag said with help from a translator. “And also because of my family — I thought it would be a great choice.”
He likes the Union’s playing style, and he has some experience with it thanks to Bódog.
“We did try to play in this ‘Red Bull’ style, so-to-say, but we were not really successful,” Gazdag said, and the standings were proof. “Although I did really enjoy spending a lot of time on the side [of the field] of the other team.”
Most important for the Union is his experience with scoring goals: 18 in 34 games this season across all competitions.
“It’s not only part of the counter-pressing system, it’s always important to have goal-scorers in your team,” Tanner said. “But in particular in our system, it is very important to spread the task, I would say, over the five more offensive positions in our setup. Daniel shows that he can do exactly that. And like I said before, you can never have enough of it.”