CHESTER, Pa. – From traveling to different parts of the world to meshing with brand new teammates to learning a new position, everything about Michael Farfan’s first professional training camp has been an adjustment.
Well, almost everything.
A familiar face has been by Farfan’s side throughout Philadelphia Union’s camp: his twin brother, Gabriel.
Gabriel Farfan is currently a Union trialist and trying to work toward a contract with the same team that selected Michael in the second round of the 2011 SuperDraft.
“It’s nice having family here,” Michael Farfan told MLSsoccer.com. “When you move away, everything is new. It’s nice to have someone I’ve been around for the majority of my life.”
Both of the Farfan brothers honed their skills at the U-17 residency program in Bradenton, Fla., when Union coach John Hackworth coached there. They then went on to enroll at Cal State Fullerton together in 2006 before Michael transferred to the University of North Carolina and Gabriel began his pro career with Mexican giant Club América.
Both players are crafty, technically sound midfielders. However, with only five natural defenders on the Union roster, Michael says he’s been playing mostly right back during preseason.
“Every player has their main position they’ve always played, but I’ll do anything to help the team,” Michael said. “If I’m at right back, I’m totally fine with that.”
The adjustment has been difficult for a player that had never before played defense. However, it’s helping him turn into a more well-rounded soccer player.
“It’s a lot different,” said Michael, adding that fellow rookie midfielder Ryan Richter has also been playing a lot of defense during camp. “I’ve never seen it from the backline. I’m learning things that I hadn’t seen before. It’s kind of nice. I’m a lot more aware of what’s going on.”
Of course, learning a new position seems like only a minor adjustment when compared to navigating the league’s grueling schedule for the first time. That’s something the rookie is still getting used to.
“The level of play is a lot faster,” Michael said. “I’m learning from the older players and talking to them and asking their advice and getting tips. It’s a new experience but I’ve enjoyed it.”
The only way to make it more enjoyable is if his brother sticks around. It would be even better for the twins’ parents.
Said Michael, “They’re hoping we’re both here so they don’t have to go to two places to visit us.”