Marco Fabian’s Gold Cup mission

Posted by Tom Marshall

Stuart Franklin/Getty ImagesMarco Fabian won gold last summer in London but needs a solid Gold Cup to work his way back into Mexico's first team mix.

Chivas forward Marco Fabian has been talked about as one of the most talented players of his generation in Mexico for some time, but the hype hasn't been matched by consistency on the field for club and country.

It's been stop-start career for the popular 23-year-old, who debuted for Chivas in November 2007 and started to get regular playing time before the now 25-year-old Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez was being considered on a consistent basis.

But whereas Hernandez has gone on to prove himself at an elite level of the world game with Manchester United and is the main man in Mexico's national team, Fabian has been left behind at Chivas and is scrambling for a place in El Tri's full squad.

- Beleaguered Chepo has few easy choices
- Chivas' violenct Clasico victory

Injuries have taken their toll. Last season with Chivas, Fabian was hitting some form, scoring four goals in the first eight games of the Apertura, and helping to maintain the Rebano Sagrado in the playoff fight. It is no coincidence that when he picked up a right ankle injury, the Guadalajara club started to slide and ended up down in 17th place in the final league standings.

But aside from the odd spark, Fabian's post-Olympic gold medal career has been a letdown, with his dream European move not materializing and the Guadalajara native falling from the mind of Jose Manuel "Chepo" de la Torre.

The forward has to see the Gold Cup as a springboard to greater things as he enters what could well be the defining year of his career. The continental competition is followed by an important season for Chivas, who need to improve rapidly after last season's disaster. Then come the World Cup qualifiers as we approach the homestretch of the CONCACAF hexagonal. Topping it all off is the competition every player wants to feature in, the World Cup.

If the next 12 months don't go well, the talent that many predicted would light up the European stage could go to waste. Fabian needs to play in the World Cup and make an impact to get big European clubs that can pay his huge transfer fee interested.

The way he has been talking recently, Fabian knows that.

"I've realized that the first thing is to be healthy, strong and good physically to be able to show myself 100 percent on the field," said the player who has unfortunately got a reputation in Mexico for his night-time "outings" away from the field.

On the other hand, it could be the year that makes Fabian. The Gold Cup offers the initial impulse to stop the rot. Fabian will be charged with pulling the strings for El Tri -- admittedly against weakened opposition -- and bring the Mexican federation some joy after a summer filled with disappointments.

With his talent not in doubt, a good Gold Cup and a bright start to the season for Chivas could well have Chepo thinking about immediately giving Fabian minutes in the full national team.

Sometimes statistics really do tell the full story and that is the case with Mexico's failure to find the net. Nine goals in 12 matches this year tells you all you need to know: El Tri's attack isn't firing.

With Giovani Dos Santos looking good against Brazil and Japan in the problematic right wing position, Fabian could slot in as the number 10 behind Chicharito. He could also swap in-game with both Andres Guardado and Dos Santos to utilize his versatility as part of a fluid attacking unit.

The spot is open, but it won't have escaped Fabian's attention that Tigres captain Lucas Lobos has now gained Mexican citizenship. One of the best performers in the Liga MX over recent years, the 31-year-old Lobos plays with the consistency that Fabian lacks and will undoubtedly be of interest to De la Torre.

It's a make or break year for Fabian and the first positive step he needs to make is shining at the Gold Cup.

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