Garfan suspended for 3 games

Photo: Paul Rudderow

We won’t be seeing Gabriel Farfan for a while.

Major League Soccer suspended the Philadelphia Union player a total of three games and fined him an undisclosed amount of money for a tackle on Chivas USA defender James Riley last Saturday, the league announced Friday afternoon. Farfan earned a red card last Saturday when he went studs up with the two-footed tackle on Riley, who walked away with a halved shin guard for his troubles. The league’s announcement said the fine was levied not just for the challenge but also Farfan’s “failing to leave the field in an orderly manner.”

Farfan will miss Saturday’s game against San Jose, the May 5 game against Seattle, and a May 13 home match against New York.

The California native appeared to have avoided any extra suspension beyond the standard, automatic one-gamer, particularly after Union manager Peter Nowak’s suspension for entering the field of play during the altercation that Farfan’s tackle instigated was announced Thursday without mention of Farfan. But apparently, not so.

Commentary: Did the punishment fit the crime?

Right off the bat, the question has to be asked:

How does Farfan get a three-game suspension when Rafa Marquez only got three games for intentionally tackling San Jose midfielder Shea Salinas to the ground American football style, kicking him across his upper chest on the follow-through, and breaking his collarbone in the process?

No idea.

But that doesn’t mean the Farfan suspension wasn’t appropriate. It just means Marquez deserved far more than the three games he got.

As much fun as Farfan is to watch play, he had this coming for a while now. Even if you argue he deserved only two games out, his pattern of on-field behavior probably earned him a third game. Yes, he’s a talented ballhandler with great vision, but he’s also a hard-nosed defender who’s gotten away with some very rough and reckless fouls in the past, such as the flying knee to Danny Cruz last autumn that somehow didn’t draw a red card. Sooner or later, Farfan was bound to get nailed. When you go in with a studs-up, two-footed tackle, that’s going to be when it happens.

It doesn’t matter what kind of gamesmanship, salesmanship, or  jersey-tugging is being carried out by the opposing team. It doesn’t matter that Chivas midfielder Miller Bolaños dove after slight contact with Farfan just seconds before the two-footed tackle on Riley. Likewise, it doesn’t matter that Farfan got to the ball before Riley or that Riley got back onto the field just fine after rolling around for a bit like he was shot after the contact.

You just don’t go in with a tackle like that and expect to get away with it.

The shame is that Farfan is playing the best soccer of his professional career. He’s earned the left back job beyond a shadow of a doubt — and not merely by virtue of Porfirio Lopez’s poor play. At times, he’s been the best Union player on the field, and while his future may lie in midfield, he’s doing a terrific job at left back. On top of that, he’s just fun to watch.

Unfortunately, that starting job wasn’t the only thing he earned. He earned this suspension too.


  1. You seem to be aruging the merit of the foul and how because it is a red card foul it deserves 3 games. I don’t understand this arguement. It is foul, it deserved a red card but why does it require extra games? Why didn’t Espindola’s require extra games? The melee is the fault of the ref, not the guy on the ground being pushed and berated by opposing players. The fact that it was a 50-50 ball, that Riley was going to the ground to stop Garfan from advancing the ball and the fact that he doesn’t get hurt all add merit to the fact that this is just a silly foul that should be punished by the rules of the game and not require any extra punishment.

    • Gordon Thompson says:

      Totally agree with JohnC. What about the shove to Garfan after the tackle? What about goalie getting involved? Nobody left the field in an orderly manner. We better see some consistency with other post game reviews of actions on the field.

      • lets be honest, consistency is not what mls does(need we look at the refs any harder)I think he does deserve the suspension, for an accumulation of things done which I think is the point the author is trying to make, what makes it look not warranted is that players on the other side got nothing for escalating the situation, and that the other coach was on the field and only got a small fine but no ban, what makes what he did versus what novak did any better.

  2. This is too much. Two games I could have lived with but this seems to be an overcompensation for the light Rafael Marquez suspension.

  3. no wak mu st g o says:

    When you go into a tackle complete reckless and with the intend to injur You deserve to be suspended for as long as the league feels is right… And i like garfan but he completely went over the line last week..

  4. I have praised the job done by the disciplinary committee over the past few weeks, and their aggressive stance this year was bound to create controversy (missed punishments, excessive punishments, etc)…

    All in all, I can’t complain with this ruling when things come up not tinted blue and gold. We’ll miss him dearly, but if we get up in arms as a group over this, we’ll look nothing but homers.

    • Jon I am absolutely fine with this suspension, what angers me is it’s the same one they doled out to rafa, and that none of the other players from chivas got anything, the goaly ran 40 yards out of his way to push farfan back to the ground and put his finger in his face and start screaming at him, we may have committed the foul, but I feel like they were the ones who escalated it. and for that they got nothing, you can argue that refs get calls wrong because they don’t see it, but the commity has video and time to go over the situation

  5. I tackled harder in travel when I was a kid. Studs up is the only possible beef. Red Card maybe, suspension for three? Total bull. And nothing for getting shoved back in the grass after? The ref should be the one answering the questions along with this anonymous disciplinary panel.

  6. When he was sent off and I saw the replay my first thought was “there’s no way he’s coming away from this with only one game.” I’m not saying I agree with the suspension, I just expected the league to react in this manner. I think they should have taken into account that he was shoved after the play – of course he’s not going to leave in an “orderly manner” HE WAS SHOVED TO THE GROUND! Luckily Riley was not actually hurt or Garfan may have gotten more. Great job of acting by Riley, though. He’s got a post-soccer future.

  7. The Black Hand says:

    Farfan got the maximum because of his history. I think three games was a bit harsh. I saw no intent to injure, just a poor undisciplined tackle (well worthy of the red and maybe an extra game). It’s a shame. Garfan was coming into form at LB. He was tough on opposing players and made some very nice runs down the wing. I think Shaenon will be able to fill in at LB effectively in the interim. Hopefully, Gabe will be a little wiser when he returns.

  8. DarthLos117 says:

    I wasn’t surprised by this. Well written.

  9. Time for a coaching change. I hear Guardiola is available.

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