You know me.
I constantly rip the Union for performing like a small market team.
But pulling this off would be a big market move:
— Taylor Twellman (@TaylorTwellman) February 5, 2019
Dude is good.
He’s really good, a 29-year-old attacking midfielder and Mexican international currently playing for Eintracht Frankfurt in Germany.
He’s been limited recently due to a back issue and really has not played much. The Union are gonna have to do their due diligence here, and if they get it right they’re bringing in a guy who finished the 2016-17 season with seven goals and four assists. He has 72 goals and 46 assists in 317 career games with Frankfurt, Cruz Azul, and Chivas de Guadalajara, plus nine goals in 42 appearances for Mexico.
Fabian can play wide, but he’s primarily a central attacking midfielder (CAM) and would be used in that position here in Philadelphia.
The Union are in their first preseason under new Sporting Director Ernst Tanner, and they ran out what appeared to be a 4-4-2 diamond against Red Bull last week, just judging by the lineup graphic and the names listed.
If Fabian signs, you would probably see something like this, after the jump:
You can throw Fafa Picault or David Accam in there for Burke. There are two striker spots for five players, so we’ll see who wins the opening day gigs.
But I think this is basically what they’re trying to do, which is a 4-4-2 diamond where the wide midfielders are more like box-to-box eights who play purposefully narrow as a defensive blanket.
Let me try to explain in more simple terms:
Because Haris Medunjanin is not a defensive-minded player, but likes to operate from deep positions, you have to put somebody next to him to help out when the team loses the ball. Philly really struggled with transitional defense last year, which basically turned into Alejandro Bedoya running his butt off and trying to put out fires.
The concept here is that the wide midfielders tuck inside to shield your six, then Fabian is the tip of the diamond and creative playmaker who gets your strikers involved.
Two teams that played similar shapes were Real Salt Lake and AC Milan (when they were good), and if you follow me on Twitter, you know I’ve been blathering on about both of those clubs as case studies for what I think the Union are trying to do.
Here’s an example of how the Union shape would overlay with AC Milan from 2005:
Same thing, right?
AC Milan had a similar player to Medunjanin in Andrea Pirlo, i.e. a wonderful deep-lying passer who didn’t play a lick of defense.
So what Carlo Ancelotti did was bracket Pirlo with two box-to-box midfielders in Clarence Seedorf and Gennaro Gattuso, which would alleviate Pirlo’s defensive liabilities.
Real Salt Lake did kind of the same thing with Kyle Beckerman playing the deep end of the diamond, with Javier Morales at the point and guys like Ned Grabavoy and Will Johnson as the “wide” midfielders. In this shape, the width comes from your fullbacks more than your “wide” midfielders.
It’s an interesting concept, and again, I don’t know if this is what they want to do moving forward or if it’s preseason experimentation, but I just wrote 569 words about it anyway.
Here’s a Marco Fabian highlight reel:
By the way, if any of you soccer-hating cockroaches wanna talk shit in the comments section, don’t. Keep my name out of your mouth.