CHESTER, Pa. – Last night at around 8 pm ET, Philadelphia Union interim manager John Hackworth placed a call to one of his players, Michael Farfan.
Farfan’s initial response to hearing what Hackworth told him on the phone?
“I was asking if he was joking,” Farfan said.
Becoming a first-time All-Star can surprise you like that. But this is no joking matter.
Farfan, a second-year midfielder for the Union, will get the opportunity to represent the MLS All-Stars in his home stadium for Wednesday’s game against Chelsea at PPL Park (8:30 pm ET, ESPN2, TeleFutura, TSN/RDS is Canada). He was a late addition to Ben Olsen’s squad because of Chelsea’s request to increase the number of substitutions permitted in the game.
GOAL: Farfan wins it late
“All things considered, Michael’s had a really good season for us so far,” said Hackworth, one of Olsen’s assistants for the MLS All-Star team. “I’m pleasantly surprised how many coaches have recognized how well he’s played. People are going to think that I lobbied hard for this and made this happen but that really wasn’t the case. He’s deserving of it.”
Farfan joined the squad in time for Tuesday’s practice at PPL Park and introduced himself to some of the players that he didn’t know personally. But despite being one of the youngest and most inexperienced guys on the team, the 24-year-old attacking midfielder fit in well during the training session and said he wasn’t overwhelmed to be there. He was excited, though.
“It was amazing to see all of their talents,” Farfan said of his new teammates. “Just to be out there with them was extremely rewarding.”
While Farfan’s numbers this year aren’t staggering (one goal, four assists), he’s been the team’s most consistent and creative attacking player all season. The 2011 Rookie of the Year finalist also has the ability to play fullback, which he’d done at times for the Union over the past two years.
“One of the core reasons he got picked is because he’s so versatile,” Hackworth said. “When coach Olsen and I were looking at it, we said that we need a guy that can cover here and here and here. And he can play so many different roles.”
Hackworth admitted that proximity played a role in bringing Farfan in as a late addition. But it was certainly not the sole reason for a Union player’s inclusion.
“There are always logistics when you’re bringing in a guy late,” Hackworth said. “It’s a lot easier and also being here in Philly, to have the fans have a hometown guy. But at the same time, I think Michael should be recognized based on his performance and nothing else. I’m proud of him and really happy for him.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org