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Philadelphia player of the week: Danny Califf

Photo: Earl Gardner

So yeah, it took us two years to figure out we should have a Philadelphia Player of the Week award.

And yeah, it then took us four games into the season to start writing the posts. We could tell you that’s because we wanted to wait till the team got its first point in the standings, or that we consciously refused to write this post because the first three weeks didn’t have anyone deserving of it.

We just forgot.

Yeah. We’re (not) cool like that.

So here’s how it works. Each week, PSP’s regular writers and friends of PSP (like KYW editor and Philly Soccer Show host Greg Orlandini) will choose a Philadelphia player of the week. The player can play at any level, from professional and international on down to collegiate, scholastic, adult amateur, and youth, in the men’s game or the women’s game. All that matters is that the player has Philly ties, which means playing for a Philly area team or being a Philly area native.

If you have suggestions, please let us know.  Email Ed Farnsworth and me at efarnsworth@phillysoccerpage.com and dwalsh@phillysoccerpage.com or simply post your suggestions in the comments section of our daily news roundups on Mondays. Tell us why the player should be chosen and include links to any web pages (game reports, etc.) that might help make the case. This will help us a great deal in picking out worthy players who might have missed our notice because they play at the youth or scholastic levels. We don’t want this to just highlight Philadelphia Union players (though they’ll surely provide worthy candidates).

As always, feel free to use the comments section of each post to tell us why we got it right that week or who you think we missed. (Anybody see the Colorado game Sunday night? Philly product Jeff Larentowicz’s return from suspension made a drastic impact, but he didn’t get a vote in our poll.)

So far, we have no definite award to give the weekly player of the week, but we’ll figure out something. (Suggestions welcome!) I’m thinking that if the player is old enough, PSP will buy you a beer at The 700.

This week’s player of the week: Danny Califf

Without further ado, the first Philadelphia Player of the Week is Philadelphia Union center back Danny Califf, who edged out midfielder/left back Gabriel Farfan by a 4-2 vote.

Califf returned from “injury” to turn in a solid performance for the Union, helping shut down Vancouver’s offense for the Union’s first clean sheet of the year. The Union captain’s defensive positioning was solid all game, and had his late header off a late corner been hit more truly, he might have produced a game-winner. He brought a physical presence  that shut down Atiba Harris and, with his hard, through-the-back foul, explained to Harris and his flying elbow that you don’t mess with Califf’s teammates. Califf’s return to the lineup showed just how significant a role he actually plays in that back line, as his absence (and the three-man back line that went with it) created defensive problems that simply weren’t there Saturday against Vancouver.

The performance brought Califf a Best XI nod from Goal.com and an honorable mention for Team of the Week from MLSSoccer.com.

Equally as important, Califf did it in a way that made a major statement. The game marked Califf’s return from Union manager Peter Nowak benching him in a controversial move. Fans gave Califf a loud welcome after he was announced in the starting lineup, and Califf answered with his play on the field. Beyond that, the game also came in Sebastien Le Toux’s return to PPL Park, a game in which he left goalless.

Honorable mention: Gabriel Farfan

Farfan turned in a great game at two positions.

He started the game at right midfield, and for the first 45 minutes, he was the most creative Union player on the field. He sent in through balls, lob passes, and crosses that anticipated striker movements and challenged the Vancouver defense. Had Lionard Pajoy been quicker at striker, the result could (should?) have been a first half goal.

In the second half, Farfan replaced the ineffective Porfirio Lopez at left back and likely earned back a regular starting spot there with his performance. He proved solid in possession, gave more of an attacking presence, and showed the defensive fearlessness he’s become known for in a Philadelphia uniform.

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