Featured / Union

Make the left side twice as Farfantastic

Featured image: Nicolae Stoian

When Jordan Harvey was dealt, Peter Nowak said the following about Gabriel Farfan: “From a physical standpoint, and speed, everything is there. And he has some bite, which is very good for a defender.” Garfan has been fast and tough, but he has had a steep learning curve.

When Michael Farfan was drafted he was described as a creative midfielder, and boy has he lived up to that billing…when he has played in midfield.

Two brothers, both playing well in their first season in MLS. Why can’t they play together?

When Gabe struggled at left back, Peter Nowak replaced him with Michael. If Michael continues to struggle (as he did with Sal Zizzo on Saturday), Nowak will point to Gabe. Meanwhile, Justin Mapp’s recent decline in form was finally rewarded with a much-needed chance to see the game from a different angle. With Keon Daniel’s immigration status currently in a stopover in the Land of Unknown, isn’t now the perfect opportunity to put Michael—who can break a child’s ankles just by dribbling too close to a youth soccer game—in front of Gabe? It takes the pressure to attack off Garfan and lets Marfan induce vertigo in a few more right backs. This makes sense, right?

But, you say, if both Farfans play someone else will have to sit.

Hmm, you’re right. If only there was a plus-30 offensive player in the starting eleven who could probably do with a breather during a 3-games-in-7-days stretch.

The Union's offensive unit performs the crowd favorite, "Little Dipper"

There are also tactical reasons to make this move. If Freddy Adu and Roger Torres are going to occupy the same pitch at the same time, the Union are going to continue to have spacing issues. Against Portland Adu, Torres, Le Toux, Paunovic, Williams and at times Mwanga ended up occupying the same 20-30 yard box of space. At one point, Freddy Adu picked his head up and hit a long pass to Marfan on the left. The defender-cum-winger didn’t even stop to tune Mike Chabala before he played him like a fiddle, and his somewhat blind cross almost found the net.

Michael Farfan in the midfield offers the Union the true winger that they haven’t had since the franchise was born. Marfan stays wide when everyone else gets sucked in; he is the living, breathing outlet that too many times the Union brass have pretended is Justin Mapp. And no, I’m not trying to take a cheapie at Mapp: Dude drifts inside a lot, that’s all.

Not pictured: Mike Chabala's pride

Let’s drill down even further to the psychological level. Can it really be good for Michael and Gabriel Farfan to pit them directly against each other for playing time? Is that really beneficial to the growth of the brothers as players and as people? The answer is no. It has never worked for royal succession, and it won’t work on here.

The Union poked a few holes in their own ship when they sold Jordan Harvey without another left back on the roster and sent their leading goalscorer away halfway through the season. The patchwork Pauno-Le Toux-Adu trio can gum up the Ruiz leak nicely. But forgoing cover at left back in the transfer window and electing to pit the Farfans against each other for minutes is not going to keep the left back position above water and it won’t make them better players. Both Michael and Gabriel have met and exceeded expectations this season: Put them on the field together.




  1. I sit in the front row of 115, right where Farfan made his moves (got to see it up close), and it was the only time I’ve ever heard a crowd in PPL collectively go “ooooooooohhh”, it was that good. More of that please. Would have been even better if there was anyone on the receiving end, but that’s not Farfan’s fault, his slice was solid.

  2. Man Ive searched everywhere for a vid of Farfans moves but I cant find them anywhere.

    Also, Tait is a CB right? I have a plan!!! Play three in the back (Tait, Califf, Valdes) and put Williams on the right wing!!!!! Nowak would approve.

  3. Spot on, Adam. But Nowak doesn’t seem to have a place in his tactical system(s) for wingers. Shea Salinas didn’t fit in the midfield. Now Marfan doesn’t. Even Garfan, where does he belong? It’s not left back so far, but maybe it could be at some point. But each should be on the field. If they play next to each other, will their familiarity with each other’s games make them that much better?

  4. Now this lineup might upset Roger Torres fans, but there is no reason why Marfan can’t start at right wing with keon daniel on the left (or vice versa). We can just play a diamond like we should have been playing since we got adu.

    williams valdes califf garfan
    Marfan Daniel
    Paunovic Le Toux

    I understand that people love Torres and Mwanga, but the truth is that Danny looks completely lost right now and Torres and Adu can’t play together. There is no spacing so you need to choose one and Adu would be my pick. Marfan and Keon Daniel are two of the U’s best players and should be starting every game in the midfield.

    • This is my dream lineup, and I agree completely about Torres. Now if we can only get Daniel back into the friggan country!!

    • Le Toux and Pauno as our strikers does nothing for me. Unless Nowak orders them to play like strikers, this lineup will play more like a 4-1-2-3-0.
      That doesn’t even take into account the questionable finishing ability of those two.

      • Yeah because in the last few games everyone else has been scoring? Le Toux and Pauno have almost all of the goals, except for one each from Freddy Adu and Torres. They score and Keon Daniel and Marfan would too if they got more minutes. Plus Freddy would finally be free to do his thing.

  5. Both Mwanga and Pauno have struggled lately. Either one could be dropped from the first XI without too much argument.

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