On the first day of preseason training, the Philadelphia Union finally acknowledged what some savvy Instagram users have long suspected; that the team has signed Slovakian U-21 International defensive midfielder Matej Oravec for the 2020 season. He will officially be added to the active roster once he receives his International Transfer Certificate and a P1 Visa.
Oravec joins the Union from FC DAC 1904 Dunajska Streda in the Slovakian Fortuna Liga. He had already made 17 appearances for his former team during their 2019-2020 campaign. He has also appeared at multiple levels of the Slovakia Youth National Team and has already made multiple appearances at the U-21 level.
This announcement wasn’t a big surprise for the team as the MLS website reported on the rumors of his signing just yesterday. And Oravec has been on fan’s radar for several weeks after he shared pictures of himself at a Philadelphia Eagles game on his Instagram. He followed that up by sharing the Union’s logo on an Instagram story last week.
The official announcement adds a few interesting details to the signing that weren’t clear before. The Union did pay an undisclosed transfer fee for the player and his new contract locks him in for three years with a club option for 2023. If the team exercises the fourth year option, Oravec would still only be 25 when the contract concludes. If he finds success with the Union, he has the potential to anchor the team’s midfield for years to come.
The Union’s announcement also clarifies that Ernst Tanner and the team see Oravec as a defensive midfielder. As Tanner puts it in the official announcement, “he is a mobile, aggressive midfielder who can distribute effectively to start our transitions.”
This is slightly different from earlier scouting reports that touted Oravec’s ability to fill several different roles on the field. That includes potentially playing at right back or central defense if needed. This versatility is an added bonus, but the announcement makes it clear that the Union are high on him primarily as a defensive mid. The team’s website even specifically identifies him as the teams, “Newest No. 6.”
Oravec should also fill a similar role to the Union’s other new offseason signing, Jose Martinez, who has also played primarily as a defensive midfielder. But the Union have made it clear that they expect to bring Martinez along slowly, so perhaps Oravec will be getting the starts early in the season.
Oravec’s signing officially brings the Union roster to 23 with Ilsinho, who has not officially re-signed with the team, potentially being number 24.