Union negotiating deal with Borek Dockal; Anthony Fontana is starting midfield playmaker as preseason ends

Union manager Jim Curtin acknowledged Thursday that Borek Dockal is at the team’s preseason training camp in Clearwater, and the team is working to bring the Czech midfielder on board.

But just when — or if — that deal will be completed is still up in the air.

“We are working towards finalizing a potential agreement,” Curtin said on a conference call with reporters. “At this time, that’s kind of all I can say on that matter.”

The deal is still likely to be a one-year loan from Dockal’s current club, Henan Jianye of the Chinese Super League. It was understandable that Curtin couldn’t say too much, lest he be accused of tampering with Dockal’s existing contract.

Curtin had plenty to say, though, about the starting playmaker right now: Anthony Fontana, an 18-year-old academy product from Newark, Del.

Fontana is just a few months into his first professional contract, but has shown the skill and hustle to rise up the depth chart. That’s a very good sign for a player who came with the hype of being one of the top prospects in the academy’s history.

“Anthony has done very well,” Curtin said. “You can see he does come to life around the goal. … When we’re at our best, our No. 10 is a volume player, so we want him on the ball as much as possible over the course of 90 minutes,”

Think of that like a volume shooter in basketball.

“With the ball, he has soft feet, he is calm under pressure, but we still want him to be a little quicker, a little sharper and a little more decisive playing forward,” Curtin said.

The best way for that to happen is to give Fontana meaningful minutes, and Curtin said he wants to do just that. Fontana played 62 minutes in a preseason loss to D.C. United last week, and 75 minutes in a 5-0 rout of the Montreal Impact on Wednesday.

“He’s a teenager still, so you have to be patient a little bit, but he’s getting better each game,” Curtin said. “He’s made some big steps on the field, and has shown a real commitment to do the running. And he does have quality around the goal. We need to bring that out a little more, and put him on the ball in and around the 18-yard box, and he can do some damage.”

The Union’s preseason finale is Saturday night against the second-division Tampa Bay Rowdies; the regular-season opener is March 3 against the New England Revolution at Talen Energy Stadium.