Union

Union fill midfield need, sign playmaker Haris Medunjanin

Union fill midfield need, sign playmaker Haris Medunjanin

The Union have answered a midfield question.

On Tuesday, the club announced the signing of 31-year-old central midfielder Haris Medunjanin to a two-year deal with an option for a third. The move was made using Targeted Allocation Money.

“We are extremely happy to add a player of Haris’ caliber,” Union sporting director Earnie Stewart said in the team’s official release. “Having played at the highest levels of our game, he brings both quality and experience to our midfield. We’re anxious for Haris to join our group as we continue to prepare for the start of the season.”

Known for his playmaking skills, left-footed Medunjanin is expected to fill a role similar to the one left vacant by Vincent Nogueira, who departed the Union for personal reasons in the middle of last season.

Highlighting the Union’s reliance on a strong central midfielder, the club was unable to replicate Nogueira’s ability and went on a 15-game slide and nearly missed the playoffs after a strong start. Medunjanin could solidify the connection between the Union back line and attacking players, while giving the offense some much-needed playmaking punch. 

A national of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Medunjani, standing at 6-foot-1, spent four seasons at AZ Alkmaar before moving to Sparta Rotterdam, La Liga’s Valladolid and Maccabi Tel Aviv, eventually landing at Turkish side, Gaziantepspor. Most recently, Medunjani spent the past year completing a second tour at Maccabi Tel Aviv. He’s earned 54 caps with Bosnia-Herzegovina. 

After a week of training at The Power Training Complex in Chester, the Union traveled to Clearwater, Fla. on Tuesday to continue their preseason (see story). The club’s first preseason game is on Feb. 18 against the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

Fafa Picault's late penalty rescues Union in win over Revolution

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Fafa Picault's late penalty rescues Union in win over Revolution

BOX SCORE 

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Fabrice-Jean Picault scored on a penalty kick and Jack Elliott had his first career multi-goal game to help the Philadelphia Union beat the New England Revolution, 3-2, on Saturday night.

Picault converted from the spot in the 76th minute, after New England's Antonio Delamea was called for a hand ball in the area, to give Philadelphia (9-11-3) a 3-2 lead.

Elliott, a 22-year-old defender who came in with one career goal, opened the scoring in the 14th minute. After Cory Burke's header, off a cross by C.J. Sapong, ricocheted off the post, Picault's shot from the top-left corner of the area was tapped over the crossbar by goalkeeper Matt Turner. Following the ensuing corner kick, Elliott back-heeled an entry from Haris Medunjanin into a wide-open net.

Elliott made it 2-0 when Picault's long-range bounced off the post and then deflected off the back of a diving Turner directly to Elliott for the tap in from point-blank range in the 24th.

New England's Andrew Farrell first-timed a left-footer, which deflected off a defender, in the opening seconds of the second half to make it 2-1 and Wilfried Zahibo's header, off a free kick by Diego Fagundez, tied it at 2 in the 64th minute.

New England (7-8-8) is winless in its last six games.

Union hire Ernst Tanner as new sporting director

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Union hire Ernst Tanner as new sporting director

CHESTER, Pa. — New sporting director, same youthful strategy for the Union.

The Union on Thursday hired former Red Bull Salzburg academy manager and youth talent expert Ernst Tanner as the team’s second sporting director, continuing the club’s drive to meld youth development and academy program with the first team.

“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. “He has worked for successful clubs at the highest level in Europe, signing and nurturing premier level talent at every stop."

Tanner, known primarily as a key talent evaluator and his eye for young talent, will fill the void left by Earnie Stewart, and bring the Union’s youth-first strategy into a new era. 

"We believe that Ernst is the perfect leader to continue building and improving upon the promising foundation we have established," Sugarman said.

The 51-year-old German-born Tanner had been with Salzburg in Austria since 2010. He began his career as academy manager of 1860 Munich from 2003 through 2009, before jumping to TSG Hoffenheim, where he held numerous titles. 

“I have followed the Union since the early days of the club, and over the past three seasons, there have obviously been many productive changes in terms of methodology and player development,” Tanner said. “I’m looking forward to utilizing my almost 25 years of experience and global player recruitment abilities to continue and forward the club’s trajectory. I also look forward to generating new ideas to advance the Union to even greater heights.”

Stewart, the former Union sporting director, left the club in August to take the open general manager position with the U.S. Men’s National Team. Stewart was key in improving the Union’s infrastructure in an attempt to the barebones organization into an international entity known for its youth opportunity and development.

“Earnie’s time here was great and he did a lot of great things,” Union manager Jim Curtin said following the team’s 3-0 U.S. Open Cup semifinals win over the Chicago Fire on Wednesday (see story). “There will be someone coming in new. I’m excited to get it to work with him because again it will be some new ideas for sure, which is good. It’s healthy.”