It has been a LONG time since we’ve seen Philadelphia Union soccer, just about two months to be exact. Since we only saw two games of the 2020 season, we haven’t been able to get a good look at the new faces the Union has this season. Two games into the season are very early, but below are the way too early grades on the new faces of the Union.
#24, Midfielder, Matej Oravec
Though Oravec has not played a minute yet for the boys in blue, Oravec contributed big time for the Union already. He brought the saying “sexy season” to the Union after he missed pronounced successful season. The phrase has reached a height of its own, but many people still want to see the young Slovakian hit the pitch. Oravec represented the Slovakia U21 squad and was even nominated for the Golden Boy Award, which is awarded to the best U21 European player. Many believed for Oravec to replace center mid. Haris Medunjanin in the starting eleven, but to the dismay of Union fans, Oravec has yet to even crack the 18. There’s been no injury talk related to Oravec, so it is a big mystery as to why he has not played yet. However, Oravec gave Union fans just a taste of what he can do, as he hit a game-winning volley from just outside the box against Inter Miami in the preseason. The huge potential of Oravec’s offensive abilities, tied with his skill of playing a perfect ball over the top, leaves Union fans waiting to finally see him. He has great potential but not being able to crack the eighteen yet gives him the average grade of a C.
Way too early grade: C
#8, Midfielder, Jose “El Brujo” Martinez
Ah “El Brujo”, many Union fans think his gritty type of play fits right in with the city of Philadelphia. What an impression Martinez made in his debut with the Union when they took on LAFC. Martinez used up all three Union kits that evening, after taking a vicious cleat to the head. The Venezuelan was another option to replace Medunjanin in the starting eleven, and many people believed he looked lost in the number 6 position early on. He seemed to be a little more in position against LAFC and was a true Tasmanian Devil out there covering tons of ground and putting his body on the line several times. Many highlights of Martinez shows his ability to start an attack after a challenge, by speeding up the pitch once he collects the ball. He has the potential to be a defensive nightmare for opposing attacks, and the Union faithful is excited to see what more he can bring to the table. Through one game, and the early impression Martinez has given, “El Brujo” receives a B-.
Way too early Grade: B-
#5, Defender, Jakob Glesnes
“Jakob Glesnes? You mean the guy who kicked the goal heard around the world?” That phrase is going to be said for years, as just about two months ago Glesnes hit the most famous goal in Philadelphia Union history. Prior to coming to the boys in Blue, Glesnes was the captain of Stromsgodset Toppfotball who plays in Norway’s top flight. It was said, Glesnes took free kicks for this team, and that he has a serious foot. Well the MLS and the rest of the world, saw that this was true when the Union earned a free-kick just about 40 yards away in LA against LAFC. The rest is history, as the Norwegian hit the upper 90 stunning not only LAFC fans but soccer fans everywhere. But there is more to the free-kick ability to Glesnes, as his 6’2, 193 LB frame makes him a feared defender in this league. Fans thought that Union sporting director Ernst Tanner was going to bring in another center-back for depth, not someone who could easily compete for the starting spot. Despite his ability to play a long ball to the offense or even smash free-kicks in from deep, Glesnes did not have a great game in the season opener against FC Dallas. He seemed skittish at times and gave way too much space to FC Dallas’ Zdeněk Ondrášek who subsequentially scored due to the space given to him. Give Glesnes a half of a season to get used to the MLS, and he should become a main face for the blue and gold soon enough. Two games in, Glesnes deserves a B+.
Way too early Grade: B+
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Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports