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Fabian Herbers relishes new opportunity with Fire following trade from Philadelphia

The Chicago Fire’s first player acquisition for the 2019 season was announced on Sunday afternoon, when forward Fabian Herbers was added to the attack via a trade with the Philadelphia Union.

With a fresh opportunity in front of him, the 25-year-old is looking forward to the new challenge that the move to the Windy City presents.

“The change really excites me,” Herbers said. “To meet new people, a new city, and having a fresh start with the fans will be very exciting.”

Per MLS roster rules, Herbers was set to be eligible for the 2019 Re-Entry Draft after having his option declined by the Union following the 2018 season. Fire President and General Manager Nelson Rodríguez made the move to send a natural second round pick in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft to acquire Herbers’ rights ahead of the Re-Entry Draft and avoid the risk of losing his services to another team.

“When I heard that Philly wasn’t extending my option, I was working stuff out with my agent,” Herbers said. “Chicago seemed to be interested. My agent talked with Nelson. He was following me since college and since the last three years that I’ve been playing at Philly. We were going to wait for the re-entry draft, but my agent made a deal work and I’m very happy about that.”

Herbers appeared 53 times for the Union after being selected sixth overall out of Creighton in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft, and has featured an additional 23 times for Union USL affiliate Bethlehem Steel. The Ahaus, Germany native will now look to bring versatility and a willingness to help create to the Fire attacking unit.

“I’m good with the ball, trying to make forward passes and combine with players,” Herbers said. “But also off the ball, I try to move into the right gaps and I try to get myself in position to score. Once I am in position to score or give an assist, I usually perform and have the right execution in that regard. I just hope to execute that as well with the Fire in the attack.”

Herbers enjoyed a breakout rookie season in 2016, appearing 32 times for the Union and chipping in three goals and a team-leading seven assists in MLS play. He appeared set to cement his role on the Union wing during his sophomore season in 2017, only to have his progress set back by injuries that eventually required surgery for a sports hernia. Herbers found himself in the rotation for head coach Jim Curtin in 2018, but would spend time with both the Union and the Steel as the season progressed.

“What I learned in that process is to be patient,” Herbers said. “Always train hard and wait for your opportunity. Once it comes, you’ve got to be there and you’ve got to step up for it. I think I did that in Philadelphia. I think the coaches and the club appreciated that of me because I always put in 100%.”

Herbers molded his game in Germany growing up, plying his trade for VfL Rhede at the youth level before making the jump stateside to Creighton University. Given his heritage, it’s no secret that – among all of his soon-to-be-teammates – there’s a notable Fire figure he’s excited to link up with.

“My biggest memory of him was actually the World Cup in 2014 when he lifted it,” Herbers said of fellow German Bastian Schweinsteiger. “He had an amazing performance in the final against Argentina in 2014. I vividly remember it. I was watching at home in Germany with all my friends. I was still in college. We were celebrating so hard. He was a hero, because he sacrificed so much to be in that final. He was the MVP of the final I thought.”

“Now, to be able to play with him on the same team is obviously great. He’s a great leader and I hope I can learn a lot from him and hope we can help the Fire succeed together.”

Herbers is currently traveling in Bali ahead of his arrival in Chicago for preseason in January. Looking ahead to the new opportunity in front of him, Herbers is eager to make a difference on the field for his new side.

“I want to show that in Chicago I’m all in for the Club and for my teammates and I’ll try to do my best to get a result every time.”

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