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Union II striker Chris Donovan signed to first team roster

The Union paid Chicago Fire $50k in allocation to move up in the waiver order and acquire Donovan’s MLS rights

Matt Ralph

Union II striker Chris Donovan has been promoted to the first team, the Philadelphia Union announced on Friday.

The Drexel grad and former Conestoga High School star signed an MLS Next Pro contract earlier this year after Columbus Crew selected him in the MLS SuperDraft but passed on signing him in preseason. The Crew also didn’t maintain his MLS rights, meaning the Union needed to claim his rights off waivers. Instead of paying the Crew for his rights, the Union paid $50,000 in general allocation money to the Chicago Fire to move up in the waiver order.

“Chris has truly capitalized on an opportunity at this club and has made incredible strides since arriving in Philadelphia,” Philadelphia Union Sporting Director Ernst Tanner stated in a news release. “His mentality and dedication to his development is a perfect example of what can be achieved in our system and what the Philadelphia Union stands for. We brought in a solid MLS Next Pro player, and we now believe Chris can immediately contribute to our first team. We look forward to seeing what he does with this opportunity.”

The 21-year-old’s path to MLS has been a bit of a throwback to pre-academy days. The Paoli native didn’t play in the Union’s academy and starred at Conestoga High School, winning state player of the year his senior year while scoring an incredible 56 goals before leading the Drexel attack for four years. He scored 30 goals and dished out 13 assists in 60 games for the Dragons.

Prior to joining Union II, Donovan impressed Union staff in several friendlies with West Chester United, where he played in multiple competitions, including the USL of Pennsylvania when the college season was canceled because of COVID-19. He starred for West Chester’s USL League Two team and also played previously in NPSL.

Donovan’s signing to the first team provides head coach Jim Curtin some additional depth at the forward spot. He could make the 18 tonight because Sergio Santos is away finalizing his green card. Donovan is expected to still get a bulk of his minutes playing in Next Pro this season with Mikael Uhre, Julian Carranza, Santos and Cory Burke all ostensibly ahead of him in the depth chart.