Year in Review: Fabinho

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

The Brazilian left back came to Philadelphia with mixed reviews from Australia, however he silenced most of his critics by having a productive half-season with the Union.

Name: Fábio Alves (Fabinho)

Position: Full Back / Wing

Games Played: 14

Games Started: 10

Minutes: 980

Assists: 2

Shots Taken: 2

Shots on Goal: 2

Goals: 1

Fouls Committed: 10

Yellow Cards: 0

Red Cards: 1

2013 Season Evaluation and Hopes for 2014:

Now on his tenth professional team, Fabinho provided veteran experience to a very young Union side. Signed as a free agent to replace whoever was in the revolving door that was Hackworth's selection du jour at left back, Fabinho also saw time at left wing. Although we only saw 14 games from the Brazilian, there was enough to see what he is made of. Best deployed in his natural position of full back, Fabinho was most impressive as an attacking force - timing his overlapping runs well to provide support out wide and giving decent service with his crosses in to the box for the likes of Conor Casey to crash on to.

Despite initial reports of his supposed defensive frailties, Fabinho was a solid defender and while he lacks the electric pace of Ray Gaddis, he holds the advantage of being predominantly left-sided and therefore being more comfortable on that flank. Occasionally, Fabinho could play himself or other teammates in to a little trouble with over-elaboration in close to goal (a rarity in MLS where "if in doubt smack it out" is a popular motto), but for the most part his willingness to play the ball on the ground was a positive thing.

When played out of position on the wing, Fabinho's production was severely diminished. Without the time and space to measure his runs from deep he was often little more than a passenger, clogging up space as he came inside to find the ball. Hopefully for 2014, Fabinho will be starting at left full back where his steady defense and occasionally exhilarating offense will come to the forefront. Fabinho also offers something that has been lacking from the Union's arsenal for a long time - a naturally left-footed crossing threat. If a true attacking midfielder can be added to the roster, Fabinho will have even more time and space to make his runs and provide support in the final third, where he will undoubtedly improve on his two assists from 2013. Fabinho is a solid (if unspectacular) contributor at the MLS level, where naturally left-footed defenders are in short supply. And who knows - after that fantastic strike against the Montreal Impact he might even add two or three goals given enough consistent playing time.

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