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Union pursuing Hungarian playmaker Dániel Gazdag

The 25-year-old fits the bill of the kind of attacking player the Union want and need. But there’s a long way to go before a deal is done.

Dániel Gazdag (left) celebrates after scoring his first goal for Hungary in a World Cup qualifying game at Andorra on March 31.
Dániel Gazdag (left) celebrates after scoring his first goal for Hungary in a World Cup qualifying game at Andorra on March 31.Read moreJoan Monfort / AP

The Union are pursuing Hungarian playmaker Dániel Gazdag, a source confirmed to The Inquirer Thursday morning after the news was initially reported by Hungarian outlet Csakfoci.

Gazdag, 25, is exactly the kind of attacking midfielder the Union want and need. He has 18 goals and seven assists this season for Honvéd, one of Hungary’s top clubs, in 31 games across all competitions. He’s now in his fifth year with the Budapest-based team, in whose youth academy he grew up. He helped Honvéd win the Hungarian league in 2017 and the Hungarian Cup last season. Scouts and journalists in Hungary rate him highly.

Before you get too excited, know that any potential deal is a long way from done. Honvéd is in a relegation fight, safe from the drop by four points with three games left in the season. This is not how things are supposed to be for the 13-time Hungarian league champions, whose history has been written by legendary players, including Sándor Kocsis and Ferenc Puskás, the man for whom FIFA’s worldwide Goal of the Year award is named. Honvéd likely would not let one of their best talents go until safety has been secured.

Gazdag also is likely to be on Hungary’s squad at this summer’s European Championship, which runs from early June into early July. He has played six times for his national team so far, including scoring his first national team goal in a World Cup qualifier at Andorra last month.

Combine that with how long it takes to get a U.S. work visa processed because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and you likely wouldn’t see Gazdag in a Union jersey until well into the summer.

But there is definitely a pursuit ongoing, and we’ll see where it ends up.

» READ MORE: Jim Curtin admits the Union’s young bench isn’t ready for big moments as a tough stretch of games looms

Injury updates

Cory Burke and Ilsinho are finally ready to go after being sidelined for quite a while — in Burke’s case, the entire preseason with a groin injury.

Union manager Jim Curtin said Thursday that both players will be able to play “20 to 30 minutes, probably maximum, just to be smart” in Saturday’s first home game of the regular season, against star-studded Inter Miami (8 p.m., PHL17). Forward Jack de Vries, meanwhile, is still in concussion protocol.

Saturday’s game kicks off a stretch of nine games in 37 days for the Union before MLS takes a break for three big national team tournaments: the Concacaf Nations League’s final four, the European Championship, and South America’s Copa América.

Miami started its season with a 3-2 home loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday, in which Miami star Gonzalo Higuaín’s goal and assist were trumped by Galaxy star Javier Hernández’s two scores. Inter playmaker Rodolfo Pizarro was also influential with three chances created, and defensive midfielder Blaise Matuidi — a World Cup winner with France in 2018 — had four tackles. Goalkeeper John McCarthy is a former Union backup who grew up at North Catholic High and La Salle.

Sunday also marked the Miami debut for manager Phil Neville, the former Manchester United and England stalwart who was teammates with Inter part-owner David Beckham. Neville’s trip here this weekend will be his fifth all-time to the Philadelphia area for a game, which is a pretty high number as big international names go.

He managed England’s women’s team at Subaru Park in the 2019 SheBelieves Cup; played for Everton against the Union in Chester in 2011; and played for Manchester United at Lincoln Financial Field in friendlies against Celtic in 2004 and Barcelona in 2003. The latter game was the first event at the venue.

» READ MORE: Union start regular season with hard-fought scoreless tie at MLS champ Columbus

COVID-19 tests required for some fans

The Union are requiring that fans with tickets in Subaru Park’s high-end field-side seats pass rapid COVID-19 tests at the stadium before entering the gates. Those fans park in a separate lot from other ticket-holders, are tested in their cars, and are given the results within 15 minutes.

If any people within a given car are positive, everyone in that car will not be allowed into the stadium, and a refund will be given. Once in the stadium, this group of fans must have masks on at all times and aren’t allowed to have food or drinks at their seats.

A Union spokesperson said that any such ticket-holders who do not want to be tested have already been relocated elsewhere within the stadium, and all fans who will be in field-side seats at games have agreed to the rules.

The biggest benefit to the Union, of course, is that they get to sell those tickets, which are among the most expensive in the building.

» READ MORE: Jamiro Monteiro again shows Union fans — and the front office — why he’s so important