Union truly found a threat in Brazilian midfielder-defender Fabinho
Tonight, in the Union's 1-0 loss to the Houston Dynamo, Fabinho received his first start at midfield, and was a bright spot for the team, providing consistent service from the left flank.
Keep in mind that since Fabinho made his Philadelphia Union debut in the midst of a downpour at PPL Park, against Chivas USA, he made his mark immediately, providing an assist on a Conor Casey goal in the 89th minute. In doing so, he became just the second Union player to record a point in his debut for the club. While remarkable in itself, the performance was exceptionally noteworthy because Fabinho entered the match as a midfielder, not as the left back he was billed to be upon his arrival in late June.
Signed to give manager John Hackworth depth at fullback, and perhaps as a selection alternative to Raymon Gaddis, there was no public discussion of playing Fabinho at left midfield when he was brought in. Yet, that does not mean the 28-year-old veteran is incapable of doing so. Even though he has played left back almost exclusively in his career, he played some midfield during earlier club stops in his native Brazil, and he made several other appearances at the position as a substitute this season.
"Since I've been here, (Hackworth) has talked to me about playing different positions,” Fabinho told reporters. In my first game, I came in as a midfielder. When I found out (that I would be starting tonight), I knew that I'd be ready, because I've been playing in both spots."
- Follow Fabinho on Twitter: @fabio_alves3
Fabinho's move to midfield was one of several changes Hackworth made to his side following last week's 1-0 loss to San Jose. Amobi Okugo returned from suspension, enabling both Sheanon Williams and Raymon Gaddis to play their usual positions at right and left back, respectively.
The biggest change of all, however, was the surprise start of the Brazilian in midfield.
"Fabinho's been good for us … he's certainly a dangerous player at left mid, and he showed that tonight," said Hackworth. "I thought he put in three of the best balls in the first half, and he was unfortunate to not get an assist on one of those. But he's been good. It's hard to fault him … when we play as well as we did in that game and lose."
Indeed, the man born as Fábio Alves Macedo was unlucky to not record an assist – the Union, as a team, recorded 29 open play crosses on the occasion, many from Fabinho. Casey narrowly missed several headers that would have given the former Sydney FC player his third assist of the campaign.
"Providing service is a huge thing. I think that my job as a midfielder is to provide service so that other guys can score," said Fabinho. "I thought that I had some good service, but ultimately, we didn't get the points—we win as a team, and we lose as a team."
Although the two did not link up for a goal, Fabinho said that Casey was a threat all night as a target forward.
"Conor and I have a good understanding. I think that he is a huge target in the box. When I put in a cross, I know that he has a good chance to get on the end of it."
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