Fabinho only played 12 minutes in his MLS debut last Friday.
But the Philadelphia Union’s new transfer-window signing still managed to help create two goals to lift Philly to a 3-1 come-from-behind win over Chivas USA.
What does that mean for the Brazilian going forward?
“I like our starting lineup right now but Fabinho is certainly a guy that, in time, has the potential to be a starter,” Union manager John Hackworth said. “I saw his cross to Conor [Casey] and I thought it was a great ball. He’s truly a left back, but in the time he’s been with us he’s been really good getting forward on certain balls in the box and he did that [Friday]. It was a good start for him.”
Fabinho, who last played with Sydney FC in Australia’s A-League, is a natural left back that was initially acquired to offer the Union more defensive depth.
But with Friday’s game tied at 1-1, Hackworth decided to use the 28-year-old as a left midfielder in place of Danny Cruz. The left-footed Fabinho responded by playing in the ball that led to the illegal back-pass to the goalie called on Chivas USA – which, in turn, led to the game-winning strike from Michael Farfan on an indirect free kick in the box. And the Brazilian capped his big MLS debut with an assist on Conor Casey’s goal in the 89th minute.
“Since I am a left-sided player, I always want to put in good balls,” Fabinho said through a translator after the match. “That is my main goal when I come into a match on the left side – to put in good, quality crosses.”
Having that presence on the left side of the field could be a big boon for the Union, who have used right-footed players there throughout the season. Perhaps that’s why the club has been much more successful delivering crosses from the other side, where right back Sheanon Williams and right winger Sebastien Le Toux have combined for 16 assists.
“The fact that he’s left-footed makes a big difference,” Williams said. “It’s tough playing on the left and being right-footed.”
In addition to the Brazilian’s strong left foot, Williams also noted that Fabinho has worked hard in training and has been a “good addition to our locker room,” speaking good enough English where he can joke around with his new teammates.
“All you can ask for is someone who can get along with everybody and I think he’s done that,” Williams said. “He’s a happy guy. Every time he comes in the morning, he comes in with a smile.”
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Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.