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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