Drexel alum Donovan extends with Philadelphia Union | The Triangle

Drexel alum Donovan extends with Philadelphia Union

Drexel Men’s Soccer ‘22 alum Chris Donovan will continue to represent the program and Philadelphia at the professional level, as it was recently announced that he has signed a contract extension with Major League Soccer team the Philadelphia Union – extending until 2025, with additional options for 2026 and 2027.

A graduate of Conestoga High School just outside of Philadelphia, Donovan spoke with The Triangle on what it means to continue to play for his home team and to know that he will continue representing Philadelphia at the highest professional level of US Soccer. 

“Everything worked out really perfectly for me to end up here.” Donovan shared, “It was really unlikely that that’s how it was going to work out, but that’s how it happened, and I couldn’t be happier.” 

During his time with the Drexel Dragons, Donovan made 60 appearances. 

“It was a slow start, and then we had a change of coaching staff, and we really came alive after the COVID break,” Donovan recalled. “It was a solid group of guys that we had… during my final season, the class above mine and my class were hitting our peak.” 

A forward, Donovan scored a whopping 30 goals while on the Drexel team, 12 of which came in his 2021 season– a senior year resulting in receipt of Drexel’s John Semanik Award awarded to the top male all-around student athlete. As a result of his Drexel career, Donovan was drafted to the MLS’s Columbus Crew, before signing with the Philadelphia Union II team for the 2022 season. 

“I had won some awards and my coach really wanted me to stay, but he ultimately left it up to me, so I decided to go to Columbus when they drafted me,” Donovan explained. “It didn’t work out there, and it all worked out for the best.” 

After less than six months with the Union II, Donovan signed with the first team on June 17, 2022, making his debut appearance just a day later on June 18, 2022 against FC Cincinnati. Drexel Men’s Soccer Assistant Coach Flo Liu, who himself played at UConn with Union goalkeeper (and record three-time MLS Goalkeeper of the Year) Andre Blake, shared what it means to the program to have Donovan as a representative. 

“To have a local ambassador like Chris Donovan is fantastic for Drexel,” Liu explained, “I always get asked the question by recruits that I speak to: ‘who are some of the pros that you have?’ and I always tell them the same thing, which is that we have Chris Donovan, who is with the Union first team.” 

Donovan’s time with the Union comes at a crucial point in MLS history, as the league has been gaining significant international and domestic popularity over the last couple of years, most notoriously after Inter Miami’s signing of legendary Argentine player Lionel Messi. 

“The league is becoming more and more attractive,” Liu summated, “It’s a league that’s gaining a lot of attention for the right reasons. Attendance, salary, and just the atmosphere of being in the US… I think that the league is growing a lot. Chris Donovan being a part of that is very, very exciting.”

The Union’s semifinal match against Inter Miami in the Leagues Cup – the team’s first game against Inter Miami after the acquisition of Messi – was made possible by what Donovan considers as his biggest moment so far as a part of the Union: his goal in the last minute of extra time in the Leagues Cup quarterfinal match against Mexican club Querétaro F.C., which allowed the Union a 2-1 victory. 

“We pretty much knew who we were playing if we won, and then to score as the clock hit 100 minutes – I couldn’t put it into words how awesome that was,” Donovan recounted, “the VAR wait [after] for about two minutes standing in midfield was the longest two minutes of all time.”

Donovan then went on to start in the Philadelphia-Miami faceoff in the Leagues Cup Semi Final.

“Handshake with Messi before the game–I definitely saved the picture of that,” said Donovan. But Messi is not the only big name to join Inter Miami as of late. “It’s going to be really, really cool to play against them again. Luis Suarez is actually one of my idols, personally, because I’m a Liverpool fan,” Donovan explained. “I’d really like to play against him, and maybe get his jersey after the game.” 

A good representation of the recent MLS gains in international traction is Donovan’s own contract announcement, which was shared by famed Italian sports journalist Fabrizio Romano. On Dec. 16, 2023, Romano posted the news to his over 19.7M followers on X (formerly known as Twitter). 

“It was definitely really cool… I just never thought it would happen. My agent told me after getting the deal done that he was going to try to get Fabrizio Romano to tweet it,” said Donovan. “It was a little bit of time that passed – like two weeks since I had actually signed it – so I wasn’t even still thinking about it… But, then he did, and that made it even more of a surprise, really, so it was very cool.” 

Donovan values his Drexel education – a degree in Sports Management could help shape his future. 

“I do imagine that it will help me when I try to go into a coaching career afterwards,” Donovan explained. “I’ve already done coaching in the past and a little recently in the present, but there’s not enough time now obviously with playing all the time. That’s what I’d like to do in the future.” 

Liu characterizes Donovan’s impact on the Drexel and Philadelphia communities perfectly, noting, “He’s a Philly Pride, but obviously a Drexel Pride as well.” 

As for Donovan’s thoughts on continuing to represent Philadelphia, his statement was clear: “I was very willing to sign a contract extension because I wanted to stay here.”