Featured / Local / MLS

A tale of two twins

Photo: Nicolae Stoian

Michael Farfan is without a doubt the most valuable player picked in Major League Soccer’s amateur draft this year.

Even without his sick play against D.C. United and Sporting Kansas City, that would be unquestioned. You don’t often get two starters with one second round draft pick.

But that’s what the Philadelphia Union did in one of the player personnel coups of the year, buying one Farfan and getting a second Farfan as close to free (the league minimum in salary) as possible in MLS.

Right now, everyone’s going batty about Michael Farfan. Eyelids are flapping like window shades. Jaws drop. “Did you see that?” becomes a common refrain.

That beautiful lofted through ball to Sebastien Le Toux for the goal.

The hop over a defender’s leg, followed by the smooth touch and the like-it-was-nothing left-footed goal from outside the 18.

Splitting two defenders off the dribble with a slick touch to himself around one of them.

But don’t forget the other twin.

Because Gabriel Farfan can play.

We’ve seen hints of his flair on the ball, but they’ve fewer and farther between, perhaps due to style but also what’s been asked of him at left back.

His brother, Michael, has played his way out of the fullback role, in part probably because he wasn’t drafted to play there — and in part because he clearly refused to accept the concept. That isn’t to say he’s not a team player. But his eyes are always ahead, looking to attack, looking to dance, looking to create. Instinct is what it is. He was one of many Union players that manager Peter Nowak deployed out of position, and he won’t be the last.

Garfan, on the other hand, has a nasty little mean streak that’s starting to emerge. No, he’s not tactically ready to be a top-line defender yet, and it may well be that he’ll never belong on the back line, another Nowak positional experiment destined to be rectified by time, facts and circumstance. Garfan has good attacking instincts, great ball skills, and a desire to attack not all that dissimilar from his brother.

But he also has a key part of a defender’s mentality: He gets pissed on the field. He hits back, and he’ll even hit first. He’ll go after the whistle, and he’ll go hard. One day, that guy’s going to knock some guy on his back and look down on him like Arnold Schwarzenaager in Commando and just confess to lying.


We’re starting to see what kind of player Michael Farfan will be, and it’s the highlight reel kind.

Gabe is still finding his footing, but he looks like a keeper. It may be at left back, but more likely it’ll be at midfield if he gets another legitimate crack there. My guess is he’d be shining a whole lot more if he wasn’t forced to learn a new position and instead could flourish at what he does best.

Either way, time will bring proof of just how valuable a draft pick his brother was, and the value won’t just be measured by Mike’s play. As Adam Cann put it, the twins can be Farfantastic, and they’re just getting started.


  1. Ed Farnsworth says:

    I love them both.

    I also love how they both seem like nice, smart young men, as well. The Union locker room has been truly blessed.

  2. Get rid of Garfan and get a real left back…Keep Marfan.

    • soccertillidie says:

      Get rid of a great midfielder that is being payed league minimum… Hmmm… Thats a dumb idea….
      Los117, should be LOCO117

      • Really you call him great? There is a reason he is paid league minimum…who’s loco?

      • Ed Farnsworth says:

        The reason he’s paid the league minimum is because he was a 23-year-old trialist with no MLS experience who was signed the day before the first game of the season. Sheanon Williams, Michael Farfan and Keon Daniel are also paid the league minimum. Do you think that’s because they are terrible or is it because Williams was a 21-year-old late season signing with no MLS experience, Marfan was a second round draft pick fresh out of college and Daniel was also a trialist with no MLS experience?
        If it is the case that, instead of simply needing to have the last word after making a ridiculous comment, you seriously cannot see the positives of having a young, versatile player with obvious potential like Garfan on the Union – a player who also happens to come laughably cheap – I really don’t know what to say.

      • My comment reads: “Get rid of Garfan and get a real left back…Keep Marfan.” It is clear that the Union need a real left back. I dont think that is being ridiculous at all. Also when I think of great midfielders in the world, I dont think Garfan. Garfan is this years Salinas. Salinas was cheap last year too but ultimately expendible as are Daniel, Marfan and Williams. This has nothing to do with having the last word.

  3. Ed Farnsworth says:

    Yawn. Moving on.

  4. Does this officially end all of the WE MISS JORDAN HARVEY hoopla?

    • No. 🙂

      Harvey is a better left back. But Garfan might be the better overall player. If not now, then in the not-so-distant future.

      It would be insane to get rid of Garfan.

      But it doesn’t change the fact that the Union don’t have a true left back.

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