Union acquire center back Steven Vitoria on one-year loan

Photo: Courtesy of Philadelphia Union

The Philadelphia Union has announced the acquisition of Canadian center back Steven Vitoria from Benfica. Vitoria joins the team on a one-year loan with the option to buy.

After the Union’s announcement, Vancouver Whitecaps announced they had “acquired allocation money from Philadelphia Union in exchange for right of first refusal” for the defender. The amount of allocation money has not been disclosed.

“We’re excited to bring Steven in and feel he is an excellent fit for the club,” said Union technical director Chris Albright. “He has the ability and experience to make an instant impact for us and is a player we’re expecting big things from.”

Vitoria said in the Union announcement, “I’m thrilled with the opportunity to join Philadelphia Union. I’m ready to come in and contribute any way I can to help this club win games.”

Portuguese soccer website The Futebol Factory says of the 6 foot 5 inch center back, “Vitória is known for his size, strength in marking, and ability to score goals, particularly on penalties.”

Vitoria, 28, joined Porto’s Academy in 2005. Beginning in 2006, Vitoria was sent on a series of loans, beginning with Portuguese third division side Tourizense in 2006-7. He spent two seasons with second division side Olhanense between 2007-2009, helping the team to promotion to the first division in 2009. In 2010, he was loaned by Porto to second division side Covilhã.

Vitoria was released by Porto in 2010 and joined second division side Estoril for two seasons, gaining promotion with them in 2012-2013. With Estoril, Vitoria scored 19 goals, including 13 from the penalty spot.

Vitoria signed a four-year deal with Benfica as a free agent in 2013 but struggled to find playing time, making only one first team appearance since signing with the club.

Born in Toronto to Portuguese parents, Vitoria made 11 appearances with Portugal’s U-19 and U-20 teams between 2006-2007.

The Union’s interest in Vitoria was first reported by Kevin Kinkead at CBS 3. Minutes after Kinkead’s article went live from Philadelphia, Portuguese sports outlet A Bola reported (crappy Google translation here) that Benfica had agreed to loan Vitoria to the Union. That report was followed the next day by reports from Sapo Desporto (crappy Google translation here), Todo Mercado Web (crappy Google translation here), and Transfer Market Web saying the same.


  1. Everything I have been reading on the guy sounds like this is a great signing. Here’s to hoping it works out well!

  2. I’m pretty happy about this.

  3. J in Section 125 says:

    Sounds like good signing and hopefully the progress toward a good 2015 that we are all hoping for. Let’s find that help at striker now!

  4. Nice! I’ll take it. Excited to see how he fits in at CB.

    Hope we’re not done.

  5. Looking forward to seeing Vitoria on set pieces. Hoping we’re much more sound on those (defending) and more opportunistic in taking advantage of ours.

  6. Definitely a good start. I really hope it’s not too little too late, but absolutely a positive signing.

    • I’d say it definitely isn’t too late considering the season hasn’t even started yet

      • I’m referring more to the fact that the first game is less than a month away and the entirety of the offseason has been spent waiting to swap 2 centerbacks. Again, don’t want to take away from this, it’s a good move. Just hope there’s much more to come.

  7. Nice but where oh where have the strikers gone

  8. Steve OMalley says:


  9. Delawter's hamstring says:

    Leave it to the Union to sign a CB whose entire highlight reel is PKs. That’s no knock by the way, this dude knows how to take a PK. He certainly looks quick enough when he sprints from the spot to celebrate his goals, hopefully that translates into open play.

  10. old soccer coach says:

    That he’s Canadian may mean he doesn’t take an international roster slot; we’ll have to go look up the rules. That woud leave one of the eight left for a striker even with the Greek left back and Fred.

    • old soccer coach says:

      Nope, I’m wrong. For a US based club he must be a US citizen. For the three Canadian based clubs domestic is either US or Canadian. Rats. So, unless Fred happens to have a green card which I don’t remember, they are already at the limit of eight international roster slots.

      • Isn’t Fred technically a player/coach for the Union, though? Even if he doesn’t have a green card, I’m not sure how he fits into the league roster rules with that sort of role.

      • THat just means the Union are putting his coaching salary on the cap which MLS pays. He’s a player as far as they’re concerned.

      • Section 114 (Formerly) says:

        Fred has a green card (edit: sorry for duplicate info)

      • Fred has a green card and doesnt take an intl spot. Blake’s GA status last year also kept him off that list.

      • old soccer coach says:

        thanks for the info!

    • Section 114 (Formerly) says:

      With Fernandes on loan and Blake’s GA status, we’re down to only having five internationals on the roster: Maidana, Nogs, Mbolhi, Vitoria, and Rocket-to-the-Sun. It will be interesting to see if the FO can use these at all.

  11. Great glad this is done.Now to solidify LBLBLBLBLBLB and striker.

  12. So they went out and got an Aaron Wheeler who could actually play Centerback.

  13. Am I the only one that thinks we’d be better off acquiring another quality CB rather than a LB? Do they really expect to find someone better defensively than Gaddis that just happens to be left footed? I feel like with the addition of another sure fire CB with Vitoria, Williams, and Gaddis you’d have a rock solid backline which would give everyone else more freedom to take chances. Add another good CB and a striker and things start to look real nice.

    • The main question is, if you find a LB, who sits? Ray or Sheannon? So yeah, I agree with you that LB is the smallest of our worries at the moment.
      You know…as long as Fabhino isn’t there…

      • The Black Hand says:

        I don’t think you can even compare Williams to Gaddis, anymore.

      • They’re very different players, and I’m not sure that Gaddis is light years ahead if that’s where you’re going. Yes, Gaddis is a great one on one defender, though Williams is stronger playing balls in the air (and can fill in at CB in a pinch). Williams also is more dangerous on offense, and I think that would still be true even if Ray played RB. He can deliver a cross and contribute goals here and there. He also seems to be one of the more vocal leaders on the squad. I’m not saying to never look to upgrade to a starting quality, left footed LB, but Williams and Gaddis are great assets and I think we’re in pretty good shape with those two shutting down the flanks this year.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Given our current state, I would have to agree with your argument. We need all hands on deck.
        IF we had the opportunity to move Williams for a true LB, I would do it because I think that Ray Gaddis is a much better RB. He is one of the leagues best 1v1 defenders and his offensive game is growing. Sheanon, on the other hand, is not showing the needed improvements in his game…in fact, he may have regressed. His offensive contributions are welcomed, but he needs to hustle back and defend (Williams often looked like he was playing RW).
        I don’t really see a true LB presenting itself for the taking, so my argument is a bit moot…given that our XI is starving for talent.

    • +1. Good LBs being hard to find, I’d be pretty content going into the season with Williams and Gaddis at the outside back positions. And even — dare I say it — Fabinho as depth. Another CB would probably be more valuable.

  14. The Chopper says:

    I like this pickup. Loan with an option to buy. Well done!

    The spine of this team just got a lot better.

  15. LB is not the least of our problems……………if we start both Williams and Gaddis, we cut off 30 yards of pitch on the left flank by constantly cutting the ball inside to the right. Personnel wise, it may not seem that big of deal…………tactically, it is huge!

  16. This should help us close out games. Looks like an upgrade to me. Good work Jim.

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