For nearly a decade now, Philadelphia Union fans have clamored for a big-name signing that would capture the kind of attention that would cause more than just diehard soccer fans to take notice.
Marco Fabián isn’t quite David Beckham, Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Wayne Rooney in terms of a global brand or recognizable face, but his signing finalized by the Philadelphia Union on Friday instantly makes him the biggest in club history.
The 29-year-old Mexico international midfielder fills the shoes of the team’s star from 2018 in MLS assist leader Borek Dockal but comes with a more considerable and recognizable CV for North American fans from his time in Liga MX, the Mexican national team and most recently in the Bundesliga with Eintracht Frankfurt.
Terms of the deal and its length were not released.
“We have been targeting Marco as a creative midfielder and we are extremely happy to complete this deal to bring him to Philadelphia,” said Ernst Tanner, Union Sporting Director in a news release.
The first Mexico national team player to play for the Union, Fabián joins Alejandro Bedoya as the team’s second designated player. Depending on how the team handles David Accam’s contract — they brought it down below the DP threshold with allocation last year — they could have all three DP spots filled for the first time.
Fabián will be expected to lead an experienced midfield with the likes of Bedoya, Haris Medunjanin and the homegrown trio of Derrick Jones, Anthony Fontana and Brenden Aaronson. His tutelage could prove valuable off the field as well for the 18-year-old Aaronson, who is being groomed as the team’s future playmaker.
“Marco is a high caliber number 10, a true professional, and we believe he is a good fit for our system,” Tanner said. “He has played the game at the highest levels, whether in the German Bundesliga or of course with the Mexican National Team at multiple FIFA World Cups and the Olympic Games.”
His signing brings the first team roster to 26 players of a possible 31 (the final spot is reserved for a player sent on season-long loan to Bethlehem Steel FC), but it also gives the team nine international players. Pending green cards, a trade for an additional international spot or in-season loans to Steel, however, make the status on international roster spots subject to change.