CHESTER, Pa. — What was planned as an event marking the first day fans could buy the team’s new secondary jersey turned into an impromptu welcome party in Chester for Marco Fabián on Friday night, just hours after the Philadelphia Union made him the biggest signing in franchise history.
Fans packing the lobby of the Union’s corporate office made the Mexican international midfielder feel right at home after he was introduced as a “surprise guest” by Union technical director Chris Albright. After Fabián donned his jersey and gave two thumbs up to the crowd, several fans serenaded him, singing “We love you Marco we do, Marco Fabián we love you.”
It made a good first impression on the new face of the franchise, who is expected to bring the added bonus of helping the team make further inroads into local Mexican and Latino communities.
“I feel so good when I listen [to them] sing my name,” Fabián said. “Not just with the fans, with the staff, with everybody I feel like this is my house and I’m just so appreciative for that.”
The event completed a whirlwind day for the 29-year-old, who after days of media reports on his pending transfer, officially became a Philadelphia Union Designated Player — the highest paid in team history — when he inked a deal late Friday afternoon. The Union didn’t pay a transfer fee to his former club, Eintracht Frankfurt, but agreed to a five percent sell-on fee as part of the deal, which is for one year, but includes two additional club-option years.
“I think the main part was more that Marco really wanted to go to USA and join an MLS club,” Union sporting director Ernst Tanner said. “He had better offers, by far better offers in other parts of the world.”
Fabián had some familiarity already with Philadelphia and the team’s stadium and facilities in Chester, having played in a friendly against the Union with Chivas de Guadalajara in the inaugural season back in 2010.
“I know the stadium, but anyway now it’s different,” he said, noting a familiarity with team captain Alejandro Bedoya from playing against him on the international stage.
Getting Fabián to Philadelphia was about a three-week process, according to Tanner, who took the job last September knowing he would likely need to find a replacement for reigning MLS assist leader Borek Dockal once his one-year loan expired at the end of the 2018 season.
Convincing Fabián to pick Philadelphia, a team not known for bringing in high-profile players from overseas, was part of that challenge.
“I have more option everywhere in the world, in Mexico and Europe and China,” Fabián said. “But the most important thing is when you feel good with somebody and I say after (meeting with Albright), he told me about this project, about this city, about this team, I feel so good, I feel so happy, I just follow my heart.”
Fabián is the second notable signing of Tanner’s short tenure. His first, Brazilian striker Sergio Santos, also noted a personal visit from Albright and other Union staff playing a role in convincing him to choose Philadelphia over a more lucrative offer from Liga MX club Necaxa.