Analysis / Union

Union international roster slots nine and ten

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Why did Ernst Tanner spend $200,000 of valuable multipurpose General Allocation Money on a tenth 2021 international roster slot when he had already cleared a ninth one by sending Matej Oravec on loan to Philadelphia Union 2?

He now has two free international slots and two free spots on the Union’s 20-person senior roster, and his public style has seemed careful with the club’s money. Probably he expects to use both.

We know from 2021’s changes to MLS’s roster rules and regulations that Green Cards will no longer convert their holders to “domestic” players until the season following their acquisition. The change begins July 7, which is the opening of 2021’s secondary transfer window. So Tanner will already need all eight of his current ones if no one receives a new Green Card before Independence Day.

Slot nine: Brenden Aaronson’s possible replacement

Following up a Hungarian source that broke the news, Jonathan Tannenwald of the Inquirer has confirmed from Union sources that the club is in advanced talks for 25-year-old Hungarian international attacking central midfielder Daniel Gazdag of Budapest Honved FC. As Tanner has himself warned in the past about other deals, Tannewald warns emphatically that the Gazdag talks could still fail.

Should negotiations succeed, Tannenwald says Gazdag would be unlikely to arrive before late summer. Honveld FC are in a relegation fight and Hungary just qualified for this summer’s postponed Euro 2020s.

Gazdag is under contract until June 30, 2023, and Transfermarkt lists his roster value at $1.1 million. Only the possible financial difficulties created by virus-emptied stadiums that Tanner has mentioned earlier might give the Union negotiating leverage.

Gadzag would be expensive. Whether Oravec’s loan has any further connection to a Gadzag deal above and beyond the international slot is irresponsible speculation, even though Slovakia and Hungary are neighbors on the map and the player may want new opportunities closer to home since he is not getting them here. (At 23 Oravec is significantly older than the current crop of Union 2 players.)

Slot ten: ??

There are no such semi-solid suggestions for the tenth international slot Tanner just bought.

To illustrate the possibilities concretely through irresponsible speculation, the name of 24-year-old left-footed Czech midfielder Jan Vodhanel keeps surfacing on the internet with vague connections to MLS and the Union. Surfacings also appeared in 2019 and 2020.

Spending $200,000 of GAM suggests strongly that acquiring somebody is expected. The money is gone. It is no longer available to help re-sign Andre Blake, or Sergio Santos, or Anthony Fontana, or Matt Real, and Tanner seems careful and frugal with ownership’s money.

  • Vodhanel has recently been injured, and Transfermarkt dropped his roster valuation from a high of $660,000 last December to $385,000 this April 19.
  • His club, FC Bohemians Prag 1905, could easily be suffering from the economics of empty stadiums mentioned above.

Reinforcements in the midfield were certainly a theme of PSP’s earlier preseason roundtable, and Tanner’s self-described pursuit of Leon Flach demonstrates that if he wants you, he keeps trying. It is conceivable that he has been after Vodhanel since 2019 and is about to acquire him.

Vodhanel would be a classic value pickup, in broad strokes roughly comparable to Tanner’s acquisition of Kacper Przybylko in late 2018.

But he could easily be after someone else entirely. Tanner defends his secrets carefully.

Appendix: What the Union roster would look like

The players association last published salary data in September of 2019, so it is not included. Value is current from Transfermarkt. “O” in the contracts column signifies an option year. The Union seems not to announce contract details for Homegrowns.

Name Value Category Signed Current Contract
Senior Roster: Slots 1-20
1 Jamiro Monteiro $3.3M INTL1, DP Jan 10, ‘20 21, 22, O 23
2 Alejandro Bedoya $770k Feb 27, ‘20 21, O 22
3 Sergio Santos $1.65M INTL2 Dec 14, ‘18 21
4 Andre Blake $2.2M GC1 Jan 17, ‘18 O 21
5 Jakob Glesnes $1.1M INTL3 Jan 31, ‘20 21, O 22, O 23
6 Jose Martinez $660k INTL4 Dec 23, ‘19 21, 22, O 23, O 24
7 Ilsinho $550k GC2 Jan 24, ‘20 O 21
8 Kai Wagner $2.75M INTL5 Feb 6, ‘19 21, 22, O23
9 Jack Elliott $1.65M GC3 May 22, ‘19 21, O 22
10 Kacper Przybylko $2.2M INTL6 Feb 28, ‘20 21, 22, 23
11 Olivier Mbaizo $660k GC4 April 17, ‘18 O 21
12 Cory Burke $660k INTL7 Dec 2, ‘20  21, 22, O 23
13 Stuart Findlay $660k INTL8 Feb 25, ’21 21, 22, O 23
14 Joe Bendik $330k Mar 5, ’21 21
15 Matt Freese $191k HG Mar 16, ’21 21, 22, O 23, O 24
16 Leon Flach $440k Mar 31, ’21 21, 22, O 23, O 24
17 Aurelien Collin $110k GC5 Aril 2, ’21 21
18 Greg Ranjitsingh $220k GC6 April 2, ’21 21
19 ?Daniel Gazdag? $1.1M INTL9 ?July? ?21, 22, 23, O 24?
20 ??Jan Vodhanel?? $385k INTL10 ??? ???
Supplemental Roster: Sots 21-24
21 Matt Real $660k HG Jan 18, ‘18 O 21
22 Cole Turner $193k HG 17-Jul-19 21
23 Jack de Vries $275k HG Aug 20, ‘19 21
24 Open
Supplemental Roster: Slots 25-28
25 Anthony Fontana $2.2M HG 17-Jul-17 O 21
26 Nate Harriel $220k HG 17-Jul-20 21
27 Jack McGlynn $220k HG Aug 17, ‘20 21
28 Paxten Aaronson $220k HG Aug 19, ‘20 21
Supplemental Roster: Slots 29-30
29 Brandan Craig $330k HG Nov 12, ‘20 21
30 Quinn Sullivan $165k HG Nov 12, ‘20 21
Loaned Out
Matej Oravec $880k INTL5 Jan 20, ‘20 21, 22, O 23


  1. SilverRey says:

    I do feel this went under the radar somewhat with all of the CCL excitement
    One player has to be at least mid to high TAM level if they shelled out $200k for a spot

  2. I agree I think with the 5 new HGs + the mid tier of Turner and De Vries they are good on the youth for now. These last two signings should be “bigger” signings that can help us right away.

    • Tim Jones says:

      Turner and de Vries were in slots supplemental slots 21-24 last year.
      the detail that is not newsworthy to anybody but a roster geek like me is that MLS’s website seems to have undergone a remake recently, just as the Union’s has. The consequence is that its roster details are unreliable, still.
      MLS still does not acknowledge that Aurelien Collin has been re-signed by the Union in all the various places it should.
      Five players are listed as being classified in the four slots between 25 and 28, including on a chart that says the category can have four maximum in so many words.
      Olivier Mbaizo has played every game for the Union this season, and is still listed as unavailable.
      Brandan Craig is listed as signed rather than in a roster category.
      There is one that deserves no criticism because Union 2 no longer belongs to any recognized league and therefore has no league rules governing its roster composition. It seems quite probable that loaning Matej Oravec to Union 2 is legally fuzzy. Clearly MLS is satisfied, but to whom has he been loaned? The Ben Ofeimu signing by Birmingham and the way it was worded seemed like a finesse of an anomaly. And there were details in the loan of Selmir Miscic that did not line up with perfect congruence the way they would have had his contract situation been subject to the regulations of an over-arching league structure.
      These are the reason’s why I took a shot a guessing the Union’s salary cap structure. Right now, the official sources for one are out of whack.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      tend to agree, James

  3. This does suggest the Union are making plans to sign somebody to a decent sized deal. Better later than never, I guess

    MLS rules says the salary budget is 4.9 mil. How far under the budget are the Union?

    • Tim Jones says:

      Absolutely no way to figure that out, George, because the Players Association has published no salary data for 2020. If they do so this month or next, as was their pattern for the previous decade, we might be able to make a reasonable guess.
      But there have been three renegotiations of the CBA since February of 2020. If ownership wanted to force the union to stop publishing the data, they may have done so. I have absolutely no idea whatsoever whether they in fact did so. None.
      The provable fact is that there is no data. Any explanations why are guesswork so far as I have been able to find.

  4. Is Oravec just homesick?

    • Tim Jones says:

      No idea whatsoever. That’s why I labelled it speculation.
      If Tanner could offer Budapest Honved FC a player of use and value, it could reduce his costs, and increasingly Oravec seems to be surplus to requirements, this season for sure.

  5. el Pachyderm says:

    keep it up Tim. good work as usual sir.

  6. I wonder if Tanner simply picked up that extra international roster spot with the idea he might be able to flip it for more to a team that suddenly needed it during the summer transfer window but hadn’t planned ahead? International roster spots are kind of like commodities in MLS, so maybe he’s hedging on the futures market?

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