“Escape from China” – Union Reportedly Looking to Add Czech Playmaker

One thing I’ve learned in the last 48 hours is that the Czech language is incredibly difficult.

Jon Tannenwald over at the Inquirer shared a newspaper front page this morning regarding the Union’s pursuit of midfielder Bořek Dočkal, and since I couldn’t copy/paste into Google translate, I typed out this blurb manually:

This is what was spit out:

“Escape from China”

“Liberated from the year of a long and unforgiving Chinese Angasan, an attractive stay in the Zamorske MLS Philadelphia Union Bořek Dočkal can. Looking for another interesting part of his rich careers today, he should have signed a contract with the Czech creative center after he missed a medical examination, and he never got used to his life in a movie, and he can also look for a representation of his move to the USA.”

Seems like the translation is spot on, no?

This follows a tweet from his agency Tuesday that’s a bit more straightforward:

“Bob had flown away with representatives to America to negotiate a possible engagement with the Philadelphia Union team. The player is still awaiting medical examination and negotiations on the final form of any contract.”

Nice to know that Twitter translates “Borek Dockal” to “Bob.” Maybe that should be his nickname.

Tannenwald had more from the agency in a Philly.com story:

“I can confirm that we went with Borek Dockal to the U.S. to discuss a possible contract with the Philadelphia Union,” Sport Invest chairman Viktor Kolar said in a statement issued to Czech media and the Inquirer and Daily News. “The club has been interested in Borek for a long time, but the club in China didn’t even want to discuss it for a long time. Finally, after long negotiations, we managed to negotiate the possibility of a one-year loan. However, there are still some things to do — for example, a medical examination and final form of a possible contract.”

I reached out to the person who got me the Charlie Davies story a few years ago, and they said all of this is legit. I know this is official word from an agency, but after the Carlos Valdes saga I became incredibly skeptical of anything coming out of an agent or representative or family member’s mouth.

Anyway, I don’t know a ton about Dockal, but his resume looks pretty good. 29 years old, a creative midfielder who would plug a massive, gaping hole in the Union roster.

His most prominent stints were with Czech clubs Slovan Liberec and Sparta Prague, with a two-year stint at Rosenborg sandwiched between. He’s in China right now with Henan Jianye, so I’d assume a Union deal would be a loan, considering the fact that he’s only played one season with his new club.

Dockal has 27 caps for the Czech national team and was part of a Euro 2016 squad that only scored two goals while finishing at the bottom of their group. He didn’t play in the first two games but started and played 71 minutes as a right winger in the finale against Turkey.

He’s played both spots actually – right wing and CAM, but he would be coming here to play CAM. The Union already have Fafa Picault and David Accam on the wings anyway.

Nick Fishman over at Philly Soccer Page did a nice writeup on Dockal with input from three Czech journalists:

“He was definitely one of the best players in Czech league when played for Sparta (and also quite important for national team),” Häring said.

Kaliba added, “He’s kind of a technical midfielder with very good passing, solid mid-range shooting. Right footed,” continuing, “For Sparta he was the key player, the one called a game changer as others relied on him to have the idea and the ability to make the final pass.

Vacek dove in a little deeper stating, “Dočkal is your typical offensive midfielder, No. 10. He is very creative and strong on the ball. He has great vision, a very good final pass and definitely can change the pace of the game.”

The Czech league isn’t amazing, but there are 3-4 good squads over there, Sparta being one of them. But domestic competition aside, one of the things that jumped out to me was Dockal’s experience with European football. Sparta had a lot of success in the 2015/16 Europa League, when they went all the way to the quarterfinals before losing out to Villarreal.

Dockal made 12 appearances in the campaign and bagged two goals and four assists:

If you add all of that up, he has more than 3,000 minutes of Europa League experience and played some Champion’s League qualifiers, too.

In that 15/16 season, Sparta took out Lazio and Krasnodar in the knockout stages and advanced in a group that included Schalke and APOEL:

The most impressive win of the campaign was the 3-0 win in Rome, when Dockal scored the first goal in the stunning rout:

I remember seeing that scoreline and thinking, “wow, what in the world happened there?

Individually, his best season looks like the 2013/14 campaign, his first with Sparta. He scored 2 goals and bagged a ridiculous 20 assists in 25 league games (2,041 minutes). The next year, he had a 10g/4a season in 29 league games (2,434 minutes). He went for 8 and 7 the third year.

There was also a point in the 2016 Europa League where he assisted in 5 straight games:

For an MLS comparison, I’m not sure who I would connect to him.. maybe Albert Rusnak? Yea, Rusnak is a good comparison, a European CAM with good ball skills who can create something for your team. I have to watch more video before going to deep into that hole.

I’ve been incredibly underwhelmed with the Union offseason to this point, but if they sign Dockal, my interest level goes up exponentially. Only issue would be getting him integrated quickly, since the season starts in about 10 days.




10 Responses

  1. No one in the entire united states gives a shit about soccer.

    Its more boring than golf, darts and bowling.

  2. I don’t give a shit about the Union but this is good for the information for the handful of people that do.

    The whole “nobody cares about soccer” thing is nonsense…tons of people like it. The problem is MLS is an inferior product and it’s not taken seriously enough. It’s been mentioned 100 times but if the Union are ever going to be taken seriously in this town they need to either go on a Cup run (lol) or acquire a superstar. None of those things have happened so the Union are pretty much at the same point of where they started, relevancy wise. Which is, like, below La Salle and Drexel.

    This IS Kinker’s area of expertise though so read up.

  3. Thanks KK. Been reading a bit on this guy and the Union need this bad. Hopefully it’s announced ASAP.

  4. Soccer is going to kill our children.
    CTE and all the head shots, our children are doomed.
    Nuff Said!

  5. Luckily for you, my ladyfriend is Czech:

    Escape from China
    Borek Dockal is settings his sights on staying/playing in Philadelphia
    Liberated from a year of constant and unforgiving Chinese engagement? An attractive stay with the team across the ocean, MLS Philadelphia Union! Borek Dockal can look forward to another interesting part in his rich career: already today after completing his health/medical check-up he should be signing the contract. The creative Czech midfielder never got used to his life in China and can look forward to his move to the USA and the potential selection/options/choices.

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