ARLINGTON, TX -- Mexico's 3-1 victory over Ecuador inside the AT&T Stadium on Saturday was over-shadowed by Luis Montes' horrific leg break that ended his chances of going to the World Cup.
It would be a massive shame for any player, but 28-year-old Montes, from troubled Ciudad Juarez, has risen from the second division to become a key part of Leon's bicampeonato and from there earn national team recognition. He was in line to be in the starting XI at Brazil.
But as the dust settles and Javier Aquino joins up as his replacement, the door to World Cup starts opened up for Montes' substitute against Ecuador, the enigmatic Marco Fabian.
And the Cruz Azul player took the opportunity with aplomb, dispatching a sweetly-struck shot from 30 yards for Mexico's second goal in the 68th minute at a time in the game when Ecuador was starting to exert some meaningful pressure.
That made it two quality goals in two games for Fabian after his clinical strike against Israel on Wednesday and, combined with Montes' tragic injury, likely propels him into Miguel Herrera's starting lineup.
The confidence flowed following his goal. Fabian went close with another effort from outside the area and was even tracking back to his own byline in second half injury time to tackle Ecuador forward Felipe Caicedo.
When Fabian is in this kind of mood, he is a joy to watch and Mexico doesn't really have anyone who can match him in terms of producing moments of magic, perhaps with the exception of Giovani Dos Santos.
A visibly upset Miguel Herrera was downbeat in his press conference, but he did have a few positive words about Fabian, saying the player is doing exactly what is asked of him and lauding his talent, especially his ability to score from distance.
Fabian first made a mark with two wonder-goals against Barcelona in 2011. Then came the Olympic run, which included a star role in the Toulon warm-up tournament. Fabian was marked as a Mexican youngster to keep an eye on and European clubs watched him closely, but didn't swoop, partly due to Chivas' reluctance to sell.
Then came an almighty drop in form, with stories of Fabian's partying common in the Guadalajara press and the forward becoming the figurehead of failure for a struggling club.
The position Fabian finds himself in now is an unlikely turnaround in a career that had seemed to be drifting to the fringes of world soccer and towards the big bucks of Qatar last August, when he was close to leaving Chivas.
Instead, Fabian moved to Cruz Azul in December 2013 and has rekindled the form of old, giving a glimmer of hope for Mexico fans that he can become the player the Mexican soccer world unanimously believes he could be.
He maintains that adolescent streak, like when he was kicking balls upwards attempting to reach the big screen inside the AT&T Stadium in training on Friday, but it is also that sense of adventure which leads him to attempt special goals like the one on Saturday.
Fabian had said before the game he believed that the Ecuador match could define the starters for the World Cup and his words may ring true, albeit partly due to Montes' horrific injury.
The 24-year-old's star seems once again to be on the rise.