For much of last season, it could be argued that Michael Farfan was the best player on the field for the Philadelphia Union.
And their most consistent player as well.
Now in this third season, the ever-improving midfielder appears to be on track for a breakout season. He has played 235 strong minutes in the club’s first three matches – a 3-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City, a 2-1 victory at Colorado and a 1-0 victory over the New England Revolution.
Farfan’s aggressive and attacking style is evident once again and he’s doing all he can to protect the middle of the pitch for the Union.
His tenacious play was rewarded Saturday as Farfan scored his first goal of the season; a goal that resulted in a 1-0 gamewinner over Pumas UNAM in an international friendly against the Mexican League club. Farfan entered as an attacking threat in the 61st minute and scored seven minutes later to secure a continuation of the Union's recent win streak.
Watch: Vintage Michael Farfan goal
“Michael is such a hard-working player,” said teammate Sebastien Le Toux. “He comes to play hard every day. It’s the same in training as it is during the games. He plays hard all the time and I think that hard work has paid off in the games.”
In fact, one would never know that Farfan was a member of the MLS All-Star team that defeated Chelsea FC last year.
His unassuming demeanor has never changed. Except, of course, when he steps between the lines on the pitch.
“I try to stay the same all the time,” Farfan said. “I train hard and I play hard. My brother (Gabriel) and I have been like that since we were kids. We were taught to play hard. We were always fighting for a spot on a team. I think it’s the same now with the Union. Just go out and play hard all the time.”
Farfan was selected by the Union from the University of North Carolina as the 23rd overall selection in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft. Farfan soon became as one of the best rookies in his class, finishing third in Rookie of the Year voting.
Then came the selection to the All-Star Game, which was well-deserved.
Farfan played in 32 games with 31 starts last season while playing 2,902 minutes. He led the club with five assists and scored the game-winning goal in the Union’s first-ever win over the Los Angeles Galaxy July 4 at The Home Depot Center.
Now in his third season, it’s about improving.
“I always feel like I can be better,” said Farfan, who entered last season’s All-Star Game as a substitute replacing icon David Beckham. “I always think I can improve. You can always do things better and more consistently. I listen to the coaches and do everything they tell me. I think I’ve learned so much since I came to this league. I still have so much to learn.”
Farfan’s potential has an unlimited ceiling.
“He is so skilled and talented,” Le Toux said. “I see it in training and sometimes I’m like, ‘Whoa. That was impressive’ with something he does. He has so much talent and ability. He’s physical and aggressive and so skilled with the ball. I’m excited to continue watching him develop.”
“Michael is aggressive and is so skilled on and off the ball,” added Union captain Brian Carroll. “He gets better every day and he works like crazy. He’s passionate about soccer and that shows in his play.”
“I think the fans here are the greatest,” Farfan said. “They’re very passionate and you can feel it when you’re playing. You want to play well for them because of how they feel about our club. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to play.”
Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at email@example.com