What Kacper Przybyłko tells us about Ernst Tanner

Photo courtesy of The Philadelphia Union

As you’ve heard by now, the Union have signed German-born Polish striker Kacper Przybyłko to a contract running to the end of the 2018 season, with a team option to renew in 2019. It’s a bit of a gamble, given Przybyłko’s injury-prone past and the fact that he was “only” playing in the 2. Bundesliga before FC Kaiserslautern released him upon their relegation to the third-tier 3. Liga.

But with his (presumably) low cap hit, and the short duration of the guaranteed contract, it’s very much a low-risk high-reward move for Philadelphia.

On paper though seems like a bit of a waste. The Union already have three highly paid players at striker. But anyone who’s followed the Union season knows Jay Simpson doesn’t really count, and C.J. Sapong has failed to be a reliable solution up top. Which means Przybyłko’s main competition will be Cory Burke.

So whether Przybyłko replaces Burke, challenges him in training, offers a change of pace as a substitute, or simply acts as a safety net should Burke be unable to play, the Union are better off for having him on the roster.

All together this means the Union under new sporting director Ernst Tanner have done something previous versions of the front office have been sluggish to do — they’ve attempted to address an area of need.

Previous versions of this organization let the team go an entire season (and healthy portion of the offseason) without a qualified No. 10, and spent every available media opportunity by avoiding answering questions in a meaningful way, or spouting empty platitudes about needing players that “fit the system.” While it sounds smart in abstract, the reality is that philosophy left the Union bringing

Contrast that with how Ernst Tanner came to town and a month later the team did something to fix a problem on the field. Add in the Brenden Aaronson signing announcement, and a pattern emerges.

The Union are taking action, they’re moving to address problems and they’re trying stuff to see what works.

It may not work out, these players may not meet expectations, but if they don’t, we have reason to expect Ernst Tanner will do something to fix that problem should it happen.


  1. This is the most moneyball signing we have had to date.

  2. Why is this necessarily an Ernst Tanner signing? He hasn’t officially taken the reigns of the team yet. As far as we know this is an Albright/Curtin signing. Weren’t there rumors as far back as July about this guy possibly signing with the Union?

    • Last Friday while observing Bethlehem’s practice, Ernst Tanner, Chris Albright, and a tall blonde I have subsequently assumed from photos was Kacper Przybylko were walking across the pitches to observe.
      I was explicitly and directly told by my host, Tom Via the BSFC communications coordinator, that Tanner was still a consultant, that immigration paperwork remained uncompleted.

    • Yeah, this. I would not attribute this signing to Tanner unless more comes out about it that we haven’t heard.

    • From Tannenwald’s article earlier today:

      “The 6-foot-4 Polish-German striker said Monday that Tanner was the man who found him and brought him to Philadelphia.”

  3. From Tannenwald’s article earlier today:

    “The 6-foot-4 Polish-German striker said Monday that Tanner was the man who found him and brought him to Philadelphia.”

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