It’s been over a year since the Union fielded a dangerous and dedicated playmaker in the midfield. On Wednesday, that vacancy was filled with a designated player.
The Union officially inked 29-year-old attacking midfielder Borek Dockal on loan from Chinese Super League side Henan Jianye.
“When we set out to identify targets for our No. 10 position that would be a good fit within our system and parameters," Union sporting director Earnie Stewart said in a statement. "Borek stood out as a leading candidate from the very beginning.”
Dockal joined the team for the late preseason in Florida and was at Union practice earlier this week at Talen Energy Stadium. But paperwork delays forced the club to hold off the announcement. The length of the loan, which will occupy an international roster spot, is undetermined at this time and terms of the deal were not immediately disclosed.
“This deal took time and patience to complete and we are excited to welcome him to Philadelphia,” Stewart said.
Dockal isn’t currently with the team as he sorts out visa issues, which makes him questionable for Saturday’s match against New England at Talen Energy Stadium. Anthony Fontana is expected to start as the No. 10 if Dockal can’t.
“He wants to play a role in the match this weekend, but we have to do what’s best when everything is finalized and he’s back with the team,” manager Jim Curtin said. “There’s always a process of getting guys along. Anthony Fontana has been excellent in training and I’m happy with where he’s at.”
Dockal’s résumé is impressive. Once captain of the Czech Republic U-21 team, Dockal has made 27 appearances for the Czech national team. On the club side, he captured 30 goals and 51 assists from 2013 through 2017 with Sparta Prague before heading to China, where he made a quick exit.
“We talked about a No. 10 that is a volume guy, a guy that’s on the ball a lot but also makes everyone around him better,” Curtin said. “We feel like we checked that box. It’s an exciting day for the club. The addition of a player of this pedigree and quality is something that will make us stronger over 34 games.”
On paper, Dockal is an instant upgrade for the Union, who feature an already dangerous attack but were desperate for a consistent No. 10 playmaker.
The key to this acquisition will be how the newcomer meshes with left wing David Accam and forward C.J. Sapong. The two powerhouse finishers could benefit greatly from a dedicated attack-minded playmaker.
“We’re happy,” Curtin said. “To sign a player that makes all individuals around him better it’s something that we need and something that we now have. It adds to what C.J. Sapong does, it adds to what David Accam does, it improves Fafa [Picault], [Alejandro] Bedoya. Haris [Medunjanin] now, with his passing ability, it’s to a guy who can make a final pass in a tight space.”