Philadelphia Union prepare for 2019 season

“I want to score every game. I want to win every game,” said Marco Fabian. Strong and optimistic words from the newly acquired Mexican international player.

The Union had just beat D.C. United 2-1 in a preseason friendly last Wednesday and Marco had unofficially, officially scored his first Philly goal – an 18 yard shot deflected off the left post and into the back of the net. Their last preseason match ended with a 2-1 win over Ottawa Fury FC of the USL Championship.

“Records aren’t important in the preseason, but 5-1-1 has a good feel to it. We were able to score a lot of goals … overall a very successful preseason implementing a new system and a new style,” said head coach Jim Curtain.

Getting some good results ahead of a new season is always beneficial. It’s a sign that the players are ready, the mentality is there, and in this scenario, the work towards switching playing styles is reaching completion. You can thank Sporting Director Tanner Ernst for the shift in style, as he has been very transparent in what his vision is for the team. The first test will be how they adapt to the new system of the 4-4-2 formation instead of their traditional 4-2-3-1 when it comes to grabbing 3 points.

“In professional football the only thing that counts is winning,” he said. “Our measure is not developing players, it’s achieving a ranking in the table, winning titles, doing the best we can.”

Tanner and Curtain at a town hall meeting after the conclusion of the 2018 meeting.

Last season saw the Union amass the most points in a single season – a record for the club. They also made another appearance in another U.S. Open Cup. Tanner knows the bar can be set even higher in the city of Brotherly love. His first task? Replacing Philly’s play maker role.

At the end of the 2018 season, it was unknown if Boreck Dockal, our number 10 and MLS’s assist king, would return. Could the Union actually replace the man with a better player? or would they simply fill the roll with an academy product?

Supporters would wait almost three months, but their knight and shinning armor would arrive in the name of Marco Fabian. Philadelphia’s biggest signing ever.

With Tanner’s previous experience being the Academy director at RB Salzburg and his work with Hoffenheim, he’s given credit for developing players such as Roberto Firminho, Sven Bender, Lars Bender, David Alaba, Sebastian Rudy and Sadio Mane to name a few.

Acquiring a star player for the U was always on the check list.

 Fabian reportedly joined on a one-year deal with further option seasons. It is also reported the Union did not pay a transfer fee though Eintracht will get a five percent sell-on clause. 

“You’re adding a top international to a team that won 19 games last year,” said head coach Jim Curtin after Fabian’s signing was finalized. “I think it’s the most ambitious signing we’ve had, I can say that.” 

Below are some other notable moves within the roster:


  • Sergio Santos | 24 | Centre-forward | Previous club: Audax Italiano
  • Marco Fabian | 29 | Attacking midfield | Previous club: E. Frankfurt
  • Aurelien Collin | 32 | Centre-back | Previous club: NY Redbulls
  • Kai Wagner | 21 | Left back | Previous club: Wurzb Kickers
  • Carlos Miguel | 22 | Goalkeeper | Previous club: RB Salzburg


  • Keegan Rosenberry |25 | Right back | Colorado Rapids
  • CJ Sapong | 30 | Centre-forward | Chicago Fire
  • Eric Ayuk |21| Right midfield | Osmanlispo
  • Joshua Yaro | 24| Centre-back | San Antonio FC
  • Boreck Dockal | 30 | Attacking midfield | HN Jianye
The biggest departure this off-season was CJ Sapong to the Chicago Fire.

Expectations are high to say the least. In my opinion, the highest they’ve ever been for the Philly club.

With their preseason checklist crossed off, Philly will begin the long and strenuous journey to lift the MLS Cup this Saturday at Talen Energy Stadium against the 2017 MLS Cup and Eastern Conference winners, Toronto.

“From all that I see, now we have for sure a better squad in comparison to the last season and a better roster,” Tanner said. 

Only time will tell if this squad will rise above and give the Sons of Bens something to cheer for.

Andy Moran

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