Marco Fábian is the big name. He's a Mexican international with over 40 caps for his country and a resumé that speaks for itself. Success in Mexico, success in Germany, success on the international stage.
This is a player that wants to bring glory to Philadelphia
But he can't do it alone -- nor does he want to.
That's why there is a system in place that puts the team first. Fabián may be at the center of it all, seeking the ball in tight spaces, pushing it ahead to runners, looking for his shot, but there are new faces throughout the roster that will be pushing Philly forward in 2019.
The first offseason signing? Brenden Aaronson. Announced back in 2018 but only added to the roster this year, Aaronson is the kind of American talent that garners as much skepticism as excitement. Creative attackers are difficult to develop, and finding out with a defensive engine? Even harder. But the potential is there for the teenager, even if the road ahead could be long and difficult. He's certainly not afraid of it, and the club has brought him into the first team to push him toward another level. Training with Fabián, Ilsinho, and Ale Bedoya won't hurt.
And then there's Matt Freese, another homegrown. A goalie of stunning athletic ability, Freese is ready to learn the nuances of his trade. Goalies often develop late, so the rate at which Freese has grown his game both at the Union academy and at Harvard University is eyebrow-raising. In person he's humble, but on the pitch Matt Freese is locked in. Brendan Burke has already announced that Freese is likely to see regular minutes with Bethlehem Steel, and that should be seen as a wonderful thing by Union fans. Steel FC head coach Brendan Burke has continually nurtured MLS-ready talent (Cory Burke, Olivier Mbaizo, Auston Trusty, Brenden Aaronson...) and new goalkeeper coach Phil Wheddon -- who has a long track record of success -- is in the fold to help Freese fulfull his vast potential.
Freese isn't the only new goalie on the roster. Carlos Miguel Coronel has arrived from Red Bull Salzburg, and Sporting Director Ernst Tanner is looking for the Brazilian to show he can step in when Andre Blake leaves for Gold Cup duty with Jamaica.
Kai Wagner and Aurelien Collin have been added to solidify the back line and provide competition for places, with Wagner bringing aggression to the fullback role and Collin pushing Philly's young center backs.
And finally: Sergio Santos. He's fast, strong, and he desperately wants to become an important piece of the 2019 team. In Chile, Santos was a 1v1 wrecking ball, and the Union want to get him into spaces where he can use his strength advantage against fullbacks or his speed advantage against center backs. Santos is raw in some areas, but his desire to grow his game is showing through, and he'll be a key piece for 2019.
So here we are: Seven days out, with seven new faces on the squad. This is a team assembled to compete each and every time they step on the field, and the expectation is that they have the mental toughness to overcome any opponent.
Jim Curtin believes in them.
Ernst Tanner believes in them.
Philly, this is your team. Show them you believe, too.