CHESTER, Pa. – From their childhood club team to the US Under-17 national team to Cal State Fullerton to the Philadelphia Union, Michael and Gabriel Farfan have been teammates for almost all of their lives.
On Friday night, for the first time ever, the twin brothers will be something else. When the Philadelphia Union host Chivas USA at PPL Park (7:30 pm ET, MLS Live), they’ll be opponents.
“It’s just playing any other player,” Michael said, downplaying the matchup. “I’m not going to treat him any differently. I’m not going to let him pass me; he’s not going to let me pass him.”
Union manager John Hackworth has known the Farfan twins since he coached them at the U-17 residency program and has seen how close the two have always been. But he, too, doesn’t think it will be especially weird seeing the identical twins line up on opposite sides of the field.
“I’ve watched them scrap at training for a long time,” Hackworth said. “Nobody goes at it harder than those two. So I expect the same. They’re good pros. They’re going to put family and personal issues aside and beat each other up a little bit on Friday night. But I think it will be in a very sportsmanlike way.”
The Farfans came into MLS together in 2011 and both quickly become key players for the Union. But their roles on the team diminished this season, leading Hackworth to trade Gabriel in mid-May for Chivas USA's first-round pick in the 2014 SuperDraft.
Gabriel has since started seven of the eight games with Chivas, in a variety of different positions.
“I had a chance to talk to Gabe this week and he’s in a good place,” Hackworth said. “I’m happy for him. I’m not happy we’re playing against him but nevertheless it’s still good to see him and catch up for a little bit.”
Michael is happy, too, that his brother has found his footing with a new club after starting only three games with Philly during the first two-and-a-half months of the season.
And with Michael likely to start in the midfield after sitting out the Union’s last game because of a left ankle contusion, both Farfans could play key roles in Friday’s game – and even match up against each other at times.
“I know his tendencies and he knows mine,” Michael said. “But I doubt we’ll match up with each other on the field the whole time. I think we might run into each other a couple of times on the field, but I don’t think too much of it.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at email@example.com.