Why Marco Fabian is a risk worth taking for the Philadelphia Union

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The Mexican standout has been linked to Philly, but concerns about his recent injury history have led to a mixed reaction to the possibility

Forgive Philadelphia Union fans for being predisposed to fearing the worst, even when there's reason for optimism.

When you consider the club's brief history, you'll realize that, more often than not, moments that were believed to be positive and potentially fortune-changing have turned out to be thoroughly disappointing. That might explain why the reactions to the team's reported move for Mexican star Marco Fabian have been mixed instead of overly positive.

Consider some moments in the team's history that wound up being more disappointment than success. The Union's first year of existence saw them hold three of the top seven picks in the MLS draft, including the top pick, a haul that promised to set them up with a nucleus to build around. By the start of 2015 none of those draft picks were still with the Union, who managed just one playoff berth in that time.

Six years later, the Union wheeled and dealed and secured three of the top six picks in the 2016 MLS draft, once again positioning themselves to build a promising core of young talent. Three years later, none of the three players the Union selected with those picks is still with the team.

A year ago the Union made a promising trade with the Chicago Fire to secure the services of speedy Ghanaian forward David Accam, a player with a track record of success in MLS. He wound up producing just one goal and zero assists in a largely disappointing 2018 season.

Even the team's most promising signing of 2018, MLS assist leader Borek Dockal, wound up being a bittersweet addition, with his stint in Philadelphia lasting just a year after his loan from Chinese club Henan Jianye was not renewed.

Marco Fabian, Eintracht Frankfurt

Why should Marco Fabian's potential acquisition be any different?

For starters, signing Fabian would be the biggest move in the team's history, and would go against their reputation of being unwilling to spend money. The Union's ownership group is notoriously cheap, but adding a player with Fabian's profile would require the kind of investment we haven't seen from them.

Is there some risk? Of course there is. It was just two years ago that Fabian was dealing with back issues that required surgery and cost him most of the 2016/2017 season with Eintracht Frankfurt. That being said, if there wasn't some risk, then the 29-year-old wouldn't be available. He recovered from the back surgery, playing well enough to earn a place on Mexico's 2018 World Cup squad.

Now out of favor in Frankfurt, Fabian is in the final months of his current contract and desperate for a move away from the German club. After seeing a winter move to Turkish side Fenerbahce fall apart, Fabian is searching for a new home and MLS is suddenly a good option because its transfer window is still open and Fabian could join right away instead of toiling on the bench at Eintracht until the summer.

Signing Fabian would be a much-needed victory for Union sporting director Ernst Tanner, who has talked a good game since replacing Earnie Stewart last summer, but has little to really show for his time with the Union.

He has ruffled feathers with a perceived 'this is how things are done in Europe' arrogance, with the German's decision to trade all of Philadelphia's 2019 draft picks, and recent admission that he may not let Mark McKenzie play in the Under-20 World Cup.

Marco Fabian, Eintracht Frankfurt

The Union's failure to bring back Dockal is a mark against him, as much as he may try to paint the loss as out of his control, and we're less than a month from the start of the 2019 season and the Union have yet to make a single major addition to their squad this winter.

If Tanner can succeed in convincing Union ownership to open up its wallet to sign Fabian, and convinces Fabian to join the Union, it would be his biggest accomplishment in Philadelphia to date, and it could help give the Union the difference-making midfielder they will need to have any hope of returning to the playoffs in 2019, let alone improve on last year's results.

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Sure, the Union could pass on Fabian, and keep looking for a new playmaker, but it is highly unlikely they will find another midfielder with anywhere close to his pedigree, not without having to pay the same, if not more, than they would pay for the man in question.

Signing Fabian is very much a risk worth taking, because if the Union don't sign the Mexican playmaker, and head into 2019 with its current squad, the only sure bet the Union will count on is missing the playoffs and securing another high draft pick in the 2020 MLS draft.

Union fans have seen that scenario enough times to know it isn't one they want to experience again.

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