Tag Archive | "Michael Farfan"

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The Union outlast Chicago 2-1, bucking winless and scoring trends and reclaiming first

Posted on 21 May 2011 by Breton Bonnette

The Union took down two birds with one stone tonight against the Chicago Fire thanks to veteran goalscorer, El Pescadito. Two goals were scored by the Union in a game for the first time this season and the dreaded three game winless streak is now officially over. Much to the Philadelphia faithful’s delight.

It took a while for the Union heat up, especially after Amobi Okugo was forced to leave the game in just the 5th minute with a high ankle sprain, but they eventually did. The first half produced eight scoring attempts but only one that tested Jon Conway.

The combination play of Carlos Ruiz and Justin Mapp was encouraging to say the least for the future of this attack with Mapp taking the game by the scruff and causing a lot of trouble for his former team’s defense. Michael Farfan, once again, played nothing like a rookie – taking defenders on, rolling through tackles, and not shying away from taking an attempt at goal. Danny Califf and Carlos Valdes kept the lone striker Diego Chaves virtually nonexistent in the first half, winning each and every clearance that came their way and jump-starting the attack in the other direction. Yet the score remained locked at zeros to end the first half and something had to budge in the second if the Union were going to produce.

It was more ups than downs for the Union’s only starting rookie, Michael Farfan but the second half was one wild rollercoaster ride. In the 68th minute, Dominic Oduro tied things up after wrong footing the Union goalscorer and putting a damper on Farfan’s night. Once free, the Ghanaian squeezed a ball by Faryd Mondragon to start the game anew. They dodged another bullet in the 76th with Puerari outmuscling Farfan and putting what looked to be a certain goal on frame. Only a slight deflection from Sheanon Williams could save it from nestling in the back of the net. As the Union continued to press forward, chinks in their defensive armor were exposed and the Fire were close to capitalizing on several occasions. The gamble at home paid off, however. As if to not let the Fire spoil the rookie Farfan’s outing, veteran and the club’s leading goalscorer took matters in to his own hands. Sensing goalkeeper and Philadelphia area native Conway out after a clearance, Ruiz fired an impressive volley – perfectly struck with his left foot – that clanged just off the underside of the crossbar. It was a 74th minute highlight that caught everyone at PPL Park off guard. It was that kind of night, however. One full of surprises.

The Union’s fitness took over after that as they fought to preserve the three points, doing well to close it out.

The win moves the Union to 5-3-2 in the Eastern Conference, good enough for first place all thanks to the Red Bulls 2-2 tie with the Dynamo in Houston. Philadelphia will next head to BMO Field to take on Toronto FC and hopefully improve upon their dreadful away record.

More to come!

Philadelphia Union Starting XI

———————————Mondragon—————————————

Williams————-Califf——————–Valdes——————-Harvey

———————–Okugo——————-Carroll—————————-

M. Farfan——————————————————————–Mapp

————————C. Ruiz—————-Le Toux—————————-

Chicago Fire Starting XI

————————————Conway—————————————-

Ristic——————-Cuesta————-C. Gibbs——————-Segares

————————————Paladini—————————————-

Oduro—————–Bone—————-Husidic———————-Pappa

————————————Chaves—————————————–

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Philadelphia Union vs. San Jose Earthquakes: Player Ratings

Posted on 02 May 2011 by stoma

GK Faryd Mondragon (6.5)- With even the defenders pressing up early on, Mondragon served as a glorified sweeper, easily collecting a quantity of balls that got through the stretched out Califf and Valdes.  Faryd didn’t face his first challenged until the 21st minute, when he was called into a flurry of action including two corner kicks and an attempted ball over the top from Anthony Ampaipitakwong that required the keeper to parry it aside.  Then, in the 30th minute, as the Union threatened to give up yet another goal off a set piece rebound, Faryd went feet-first to stonewall the sliding attempt of Chris Wondowlowski, a brilliant save that set off fireworks between Mondragon and Earthquakes midfielder Ben McDonald.  This, of course, quickly ignited a full-squad confrontation once Danny Califf saw his goalkeeper being pushed by an opponent.  The end result was matching yellows for Faryd and McDonald and a chorus of “Mon-drag-on” chants from the River End.

For the rest of the match, with the crowd frenzied and then taken to a crescendo when the Union took the lead in the 76th minute, Mondragon assumed his role once again as the calming presence at the back.  Although he only officially recorded 1 save, that’s not counting the aforementioned rebuke of Wondolowski and a critical punch of a 50/50 ball bouncing in that Steven Lenhart had a real chance at putting away.  The 1 official save was also solid, as a San Jose corner ricocheted onto the head of Lenhart only to be calmly snatched by Faryd to preserve the shutout.

LB Jordan Harvey (5)- After a largely uneventful 1st half in which Harvey joined Sheanon Williams in pushing as far up high as they could get away with, calamity found Jordan in the form of a 50/50 ball that ended up with Chris Leitch tangled up at Harvey’s feet.  Attempting to disengage himself and go after the ball, Harvey managed what appeared to be a bit of an extracurricular jab with his spike into Leitch’s midsection.  This earned Jordan a 41st minute sending-off, compounded by the fact that referee Mark Geiger missed Leitch’s obvious retaliation, which should have resulted in discipline for him, as well.  Pursuant to Major League Soccer’s rules, the straight red earns Harvey a 2-game suspension. The decision will most likely be appealed.

CB Danny Califf (7)- As we said about Valdes a few games ago, while Mondragon has rightly been rapidly gaining notoriety around the league for his immense ability, the defense directly in front of him should also be receiving a large amount of credit for Philadelphia’s quick turnaround from porous last season to impenetrable so far this season.  Further, the imposing presence of both Califf and Valdes has allowed Piotr Nowak and the technical staff to develop more offensive-minded tactics without having to worry that they will be left vulnerable at the back.  As we saw against San Jose, the Union can be successful defensively with just Califf and Valdes hanging back.  Even down a man, the side did not have to abandon the attack, which allowed them to secure the home win they were seeking.

CB Carlos Valdes (7.5)- Another stellar defensive outing from Valdes, especially so as he and Califf were given even more responsibility than usual with both wingbacks pushing up high early on.  Then, after Harvey’s ejection, as the Union continued to attack, it was the steady hand of Valdes that insured that no quick counterattack or long ball challenged the Philadelphia goal.  So solid has Carlos’ play been that it seems fruitless to try and point out the myriad positive plays he makes in this space.  Instead, one must try and identify any mistakes.  As has been the case more often than not this season, there were none against San Jose.

RB Sheanon Williams (6.5)- Along with Harvey, Williams spent the first half-hour of the match joining a relentless Union attack as the center backs alone held the fort in front of Mondragon.  Made an impact early, earning a corner in the 13th minute, and remained a part of the action even after Philadelphia went down a man.  Along with his long throws, which have become an integral part of the attack, especially on the occasions against San Jose when the defense was not ready for a quick restart, Sheanon was again a positive influence on the opposition’s side of the pitch.  When the time came for Williams to defend, the results were not as strong, but neither were they highly disappointing.  Sheanon’s weakness remains judgment of long balls in the air and understanding when to step up and gamble.  However, his speed has so far allowed him to recover on mistakes, an attribute that will make him all the more valuable as his technique continues to improve.

MID Amobi Okugo (8 *ASN PHILLY MAN OF THE MATCH*)- Left as the sole defensive midfielder to help anchor the defense, it was trial by fire for the rapidly developing Okugo.   From early on, it was clear that Amobi was up to the task, as he not only stood tall in defense, but was happy to keep the ball and move forward to initiate the attack.   Then, at halftime, when Stefani Miglioranzi came on to take on the lion’s share of the defensive responsibility, Okugo shifted to a hybrid role and found himself pushing forward as the Union’s attack continued to gain momentum, even with the man disadvantage.   First, he trailed the attack in the 70th minute when a failed clearance came to him and he took a strong shot from 25 yards that forced Jon Busch into action.  Then, the payoff came in the 76th minute, when a strong run into the box ended with an attempted cross that struck the hand of Earthquakes defender Jason Hernandez and resulted in the ultimately game-winning penalty kick, converted by Le Toux.  Okugo’s versatility is fast making him invaluable to the Philadelphia side.  It is going to be incredibly difficult to keep him out of the starting XI from this point forward.

MID Sebastien Le Toux (7)- Le Toux still struggled with his first touch in traffic, but the attacking formation at the outset gave him a little more room to work with, and Seba took advantage from the kickoff on.  Sebastien made threatening runs, combined with Torres, Ruiz and Mwanga on several legitimate scoring opportunities and used his speed to get behind the San Jose defense with regularity.  There was also the nifty move that took him into the penalty area only to be derailed by a hard challenge from Sam Cronin just before he took his shot.  A bit of a breakout game for Seba, even without the results in the run of play.  Of course, all of this took a backseat to Le Toux’s 1st goal of the season off of the 76th minute penalty kick, the only goal of the match, driven down the center and toward the top of the goal.  Seba remains the team’s designated penalty taker and has yet to be denied in that role as a member of the Union.

MID Roger Torres (6)– A somewhat surprising start, as Piotr Nowak and his staff unveiled a much-welcomed attacking lineup at home.  Tasked with manning the middle of the front three midfielders, Torres would need to prove that he could be the engine of the attack, opting for the simple pass more often than the homerun ball.   He definitely showed a bit more discretion than we’ve seen from Roger, although the only serious chance involving him was a shot attempted on Jon Busch’s near side in the 16th minute after receiving a deft pass from Carlos Ruiz that Busch parried relatively easily.  With his first start of the season, Torres showed a continued improvement in poise and presence.  Unfortunately, before anything tangible could materialize, he was taken off at the half for defensive purposes in place of Michael Farfan.

MID Keon Daniel (7.5)- Daniel is beginning to really put his imprint on the Philadelphia side, taking more initiative and gaining more trust from his teammates and the coaching staff with each passing game.  Keon took control of the buildup from the left flank, allowing Le Toux and Torres the room to operate and move forward.  Daniel’s play became even more vital when Jordan Harvey was sent off in the 41st minute, first moving back to cover the vacated left back position to close the 1st half and then taking on even more responsibility as the team continued to push for a goal in the 2nd half.  In particular, his combinations with Michael Farfan and Le Toux down the wing were invariably productive.

FWD Danny Mwanga (6)- A capable, not spectacular effort from Mwanga against San Jose, as he was able to use his possessions well, either turning upfield or linking with his teammates.  Where Danny still needs to improve is his off-the-ball presence.  We’ve all by now seen him turn on that extra gear, the one that most people, even professional athletes, do not possess.  However, this seems only to occur when Mwanga already has the ball and can smell the goal.  Rare is the occasion when he will turn on the jets to make a center run or make a challenge that could change the game in the final third.  When he shows that level of stamina and work ethic, though, he will be among the league’s elite.  Mwanga was brought off for extra midfielder Stefani Miglioranzi at halftime after the Union went a man down.

FWD Carlos Ruiz (7)- For possibly the first time since joining the Union, it can be said that Ruiz truly worked with and for his teammates against San Jose.   Taking more of the distributor role in this match, he first combined with Roger Torres and Seba Le Toux for an early chance, then found Torres in the 16th minute with a ball that sprang Torres for shot on goal.  He also made himself available with runs into the area, notably receiving a ground cross from Le Toux that resulted in a shot that was blocked.  In the 2nd half, Ruiz continued his good work, highlighted by an exchange in the 70th minute in which he received a ball in from Michael Farfan, turned and found Le Toux, and laid it off for what was the best opportunity the Union had all day during the run of play.  Came off for Kyle Nakazawa in the 83rd minute.

MID Stefani Miglioranzi (6)- Came on for defensive purposes at halftime after Harvey was sent off, replacing Danny Mwanga.  In a shorter burst than his usual role up until now as a starter, Migs was far more effective than he had been in recent matches.  He consistently battled for every ball, made several key tackles and kept his wits about him when he found himself in possession in a hotly contested midfield.  Obviously, it is not likely that a defensive midfielder can be considered a super-sub, but we must remember that it is a long season and Stefani will still be needed even if he is not to return to the starting XI on a consistent basis.  It was reassuring to see that he will be ready when called upon, regardless of the role he is asked to play.

LB Michael Farfan (7)- Came in for Roger Torres as the new left back in a suddenly defensive formation following halftime, the Union apparently shifting their goal from win to scoreless draw a man down.  However, this clearly was not the case, as Farfan, in his professional debut, showed an adroit capacity for pressing up and not only joining, but engineering, the attack.  Several combinations with Keon Daniel and Sebastien Le Toux led to real chances for the Union as they seized control right at the outset of the 2nd half.  In addition, Farfan showed true competency at the back, a role he had not taken on at lower levels but has been groomed for since the beginning of the season in training.  Another in what is becoming a long string of pleasant surprises for the Union early on in this campaign.

MID Kyle Nakazawa (N/A) Came on for Carlos Ruiz to help salt away the game in the 83rd minute.

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News from the Training Ground: Interview with Rookie Michael Farfan

Posted on 29 January 2011 by stoma

As the first leg of training got underway, a week of warm-up before the public and media at YSC in Wayne, PA before the intensity kicks into high gear when the Union travel to Orlando next week, we got a chance to speak with Michael Farfan, the team’s 2nd round pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft.  The 22 year-old discussed making the adjustment from college to the pros, his hopes for his rookie season and beyond, and the possibility of playing for the Philadelphia Union with his twin brother, Gabriel.

Following Gabriel’s departure from Cal State Fullerton, where the two were teammates from 2006-2008, Michael moved on to the University of North Carolina, where he earned NSCAA First Team All-American honors in 2009 and 2010.  Here’s our conversation with the rookie many believe could make the biggest impact for the Union in the midst of his first MLS training camp.

Q: The talk we’ve heard amongst our readers almost since the moment you were drafted was that you have a chance to be a real 2nd round steal.  In your contact with clubs leading into the draft, did you have any idea where you could go?

A: Not really, I didn’t really know.  I had talked to a few clubs, just interviews, but a lot of players did those, so it wasn’t like anyplace was a sure thing.  I really didn’t know where I was going to go.  With trades and all those kinds of things, you really have no idea.

Q: Were you surprised that you fell to the 2nd round, especially as a two-time First Team All-American at North Carolina?

A: No, not too much.  I didn’t think I had performed as well as I could have at the combines, so I felt that hurt me a little bit.  But, I just came into the draft open-minded and hoping to end up in a good spot.  I’m really glad I ended up in Philadelphia.

Q: Will having teams pass on you in the draft provide extra motivation, to prove them wrong?

A: Obviously, everyone’s goal is to do as best as possible and show their ability.  So, yeah, I’d love to show my potential and my ability.

Q:  In the first few days of training, which of the current Union players do you most look forward to working with and learning from?  Is it any different as a midfielder, leaning on other midfielders with the team more so than other positions?

A: I’m looking forward to working with everyone.  Everyone has something different to offer.  It’s fun to get to know new players, get to know their tendencies and abilities.  As a midfielder, it’s always fun to work with other midfielders.

Q:  Is there anyone in particular who has emerged or is established as the most outspoken on the training ground or in the locker room?

A: There are a couple of guys who like to joke around.  Everyone’s a little bit different, but I would say that everyone is pretty close and everyone is up for a laugh.

Q:  Talk a little about the transition from college to the pros, even at a traditionally high-level program like North Carolina, in terms of the speed of the game and the level of play you’ve seen coming in as a rookie.

A: I think the level of play is definitely higher.  Everything is held to a higher standard.  Just the professionalism of everyone, training and working their hardest.  It’s about making sure you get better every day because now it’s a career, not just, I guess, a hobby.  It’s fun to experience this and to work with such great players has been an amazing experience.

Q:  You talked about it in terms of a career and not just a hobby.  When do you think it clicked for you that soccer was something you wanted to pursue as a career and keep going forward with it?

A: I’ve always had the dream of becoming a professional.  Over the years, you just work hard towards it, and [at some point] I realized that I had a chance to succeed in my dreams.  Then you just keep working harder and harder until you finally achieve it and, once you achieve it, you work hard to stay up there.

Q:  Your twin brother, Gabriel, left college for the pros a couple of years earlier than you; has he been able to provide any advice or insight as you begin your pro career?

A: Yeah, he played in Mexico [with Club America] for the past two years, so he knows what it’s like.  He’s shared his experiences, told me what to expect and given me little tips here and there.  It’s nice to have someone with experience help me through it.

Q:  A lot of folks have noticed Gabriel in camp at the public workouts the team has been having this week.  Have you two talked about what it would be like to play on the same team again, this time as professionals?

A: Obviously, it would be amazing.  There’s nothing better than having family close to you, and having him on the same team would be one of the most awesome things someone could ask for.  We’ll just wait and see, but hopefully things work out.

Q: Last season, Peter Nowak found midfielders he was comfortable with and, for the most part, stuck with them.  In the first few days of training, have you gotten a feel for the technical staff’s style and what kind of chances you will have to make an immediate impact?

A: We haven’t trained 11 v. 11 too many times yet.  I think I’ll get a better feel for everything once we get down to Orlando and get into the training camp there.

Q:  Your style at North Carolina was as a player who liked to hold the ball and create. Do you think you will be given that opportunity as a rookie in the MLS?

A: Who knows? You never know. Every coach is different and different coaches expect different things out of you or see different things in you.  So, I’m not too sure; only time will tell.

Q:  How can you use your strengths to contribute in other areas?

A: I think I’m a versatile player.  I can play on the left or right, which can help a lot.  I’m pretty much up for anything: wherever the team needs me, I’m going to work hard.

Q:  What do you feel you will need to improve upon in your game to contribute to the team?

A: I think just adapting to the high level of play, but I think that will come with time.  Working with my heading ability, I think that’s one of the biggest individual things I need to work on.

Q: How different do you think it is for guys coming up with you as opposed to players in years past in terms of the perception of the MLS as a viable option to start your career or even to spend your entire career playing in?

A: Every year, the league has gotten better and better.  I feel like this isn’t a place that people look down on anymore.  It’s a place where people are happy to start their careers as well as finish them.  It’s definitely a great thing what the US and MLS have done

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Photos from the 2011 MLS SuperDraft in Baltimore, MD

Posted on 13 January 2011 by tmclaughlin

ASNPhilly Photographer Terry McLaughlin is back for the 2011 season and made the trip to Baltimore to catch some shots of the newest players to join the MLS and Union.  Check out some exclusive photos from the SuperDraft here:

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Also, if you’re on facebook then check out our new page at: ASN Philly

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Player Profile: Michael Farfan

Posted on 13 January 2011 by Breton Bonnette

Position: Midfielder

College: UNC

Birthdate: June 23, 1988

Height: 5’9″

Weight: 160

Hometown: San Diego, CA

Acquired: Selected by the Union with the 23th pick in the 2nd Round of 2011 MLS SuperDraft.

College Stats

2008-2010 at UNC: 41 games played, 41 started, 10 goals, 7 assists

2006-2008 at University of Cal-State Fullerton: 34 games played, 32 starts, 8 goals, 7 assists

Did you know?

Noted college soccer guru Joe Mauceri over at Pro Player Pipeline ranked Farfan the 3rd best midfielder available for the 2011 MLS SuperDraft. See his comments on Farfan’s Combine performance below or at the site linked above.

Michael Farfan (UNC) very active in the attack including initiating an attack where Bruin got behind the defense.  Took a shot early when McCarthy set him up; from 1/10/11 (adequate), disappeared for much of the half, occasionally popping up to get involved. ; From 1/8/11 (adequate), was involved early but seemed to fade out as the match continued.  He had a shot that was blocked by Warshaw.  He combined with Plata to get behind the defense, but the GK got to the Plata pass.  Farfan needs to take more responsibility for the play.

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