Photo: Paul Rudderow
Editor’s note: In Philadelphia, we’re all familiar with rants about sports. So once a year, PSP’s writers take several days to just flat out rave about players. They may not be the best players, but they’re players we like. Here’s another one in our Raves series.
I still believe in Michael Farfan.
Despite his up and down in a season with long spells on the bench and out of position, I still believe he is one of the best players on the Philadelphia Union.
To me, Farfan embodies many of the qualities this team has needed for most of the year. He embodies the “Philly Tough” mentality preached by the coaching staff, while possessing the skill and soccer smarts needed to play in MLS.
And he is a positive player, which cannot be said for all of the team’s midfielders. Whether in center midfield or on his much more effective right side, he is always moving forward. He can be the spark out of the midfield, beating defenders and delivering a good ball to a teammate. He is a strong defender as well, working hard to recover lost possession.
Unfortunately, the coaching staff hasn’t always seen it that way this season.
Before the start of this season, he looked set to lead the midfield attack again.
Then the emergence of Danny Cruz as a John Hackworth favorite and the staff’s desire to be more pragmatic in the center of the park pushed Farfan to his less preferred left side and, worse, to the bench. When he did feature in the middle earlier this season, he received very little support in the attack. His playing time flagged, and his starts dwindled. On top of that, his twin brother Gabriel was traded to MLS Siberia, Chivas USA. Not the makings of a good season.
He waited though, biding his time, knowing he wouldn’t be in this spot forever.
Fast forward a bit. With the playoff picture completely in flux and Keon Daniel apparently in Hack’s dog house, Michael is being called upon again. He has slotted back into the middle in the last three games and has been one of the best players on the pitch. The only thing taking away from that is his recent suspension due to yellow card accumulation.
By most accounts, Michael Farfan was set to have a breakout year. Last season, his coach extolled his virtues as an attacker. He looked ready to combine with an improved forward corps and be the provider for them all year. Unfortunately, that never really materialized.
Now, with points growing more precious as the Union chase the golden playoff ring, a player of Farfan’s skill and determination is exactly what teams need to thrive in the postseason and beyond.