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Matej Oravec’s strange trip with the Philadelphia Union officially ends

Oravec made a big splash when he was signed and then never played

Matt Ralph

The “Sexy Szn” era officially came to an end Thursday with a 44-word press released tacked on to the bottom of news about the transfer of Jack de Vries to Venezia FC.

Philadelphia Union have mutually agreed to part ways with midfielder Matej Oravec. Last year, the Union loaned Oravec to Slovakian side FK Železiarne Podbrezová on a one-year loan.

Transaction: Philadelphia Union and midfielder Matej Oravec mutually agree to part ways on July 7, 2022.

Oravec signed a three-year contract with the Philadelphia Union in 2020 and made an immediate impression when he unintentionally uttered a phrase that sounded like “sexy season” in his introductory press conference. Fans took the phrase and ran with it and the team even started using the #SexySzn hashtag but even when the season resumed after the Covid-19 shutdown, Oravec was nothing more than a background figure in the run to the Supporters’ Shield title.

He ended up logging zero minutes in MLS and the USL Championship combined before being loaned back to his home country last year.

What was even weirder about his inability to see the field in either MLS or USL Championship is the reported dollar amount for his transfer ($1.1 million according to Transfermarkt) and salary ($314,500 in most recent salary info release) that put him in the top half of earnings on the squad.

Whatever the story was — head coach Jim Curtin would routinely answer questions about him by saying that he was improving but wasn’t quite where he needed to be to earn minutes — it remains the most glaring miss in an era under Ernst Tanner when most signings have exceeded expectations.

While Oravec, still just 24, didn’t work out, Jose Martinez, a less heralded signing from Venezuela ahead of the 2020 season, has emerged as one of the team’s star players and among the best sixes in the league.