Philadelphia Union get the most out of playing the Farfan brothers together in midfield

Michael Farfan

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CHESTER, Pa. – Michael and Gabriel Farfan have been teammates on the Philadelphia Union ever since both began their MLS careers in 2011.

But over the past two seasons, the twin brothers have rarely gotten the opportunity to play together in the attack, as Gabriel became entrenched as the team’s starting left back while Michael played above him in the midfield.

That could be changing in 2013. 

In last weekend’s season opener against Sporting Kansas City, both Farfans were employed in the midfield, with Gabriel on the left wing and Michael on the right. It was a formational decision that Union manager John Hackworth said worked well – and one he may try again in Saturday’s road tilt against the Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park (6 pm ET, watch LIVE online).

“They’re two of our more skillful players and they play with a lot of creativity, a lot of flair,” Hackworth said. “They certainly know each other’s tendencies better than anybody. I thought Gabriel was one of the better players in the match for long parts of the game on Saturday – which is great to see. That means we’re able to push them farther up the field.

“At the end of the day, I was pleased with the move and I thought for a lot of the game it worked.

MLS Match Recap: Philadelphia Union 1, Sporting Kansas City 3

The move was only made possible because Ray Gaddis impressed the coaches enough in the preseason to be given the opening-day start at left back. That was just fine with Gabriel Farfan, who prefers playing higher up the field, even if he did emerge as one of the team’s most valuable defenders over the past year-and-a-half.

“I love playing the midfield,” Gabriel said. “That’s my natural position.”

If the Farfans continue to play together in the midfield, they’re both confident they can effectively work together to jumpstart an attack that sagged for much of the 2012 season.

They have, after all, had a lot of success playing with each other over the past 20 or so years.

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“We played together growing up, so I can kind of tell what he’s going to do before he gets the ball,” Michael said. “I have a sense what he’s thinking about doing or the decisions he’s going to make because I probably would make a lot of the same decisions he would.”

Added Gabriel, “We’ve played together our whole lives, so we have some great chemistry.”

Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at djzeitlin@gmail.com.