GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Gabriel Farfan knows time is of the essence if he wants to achieve his goal of converting his six-month loan deal with Chiapas FC from Chivas USA into a permanent move south.
The 25-year-old midfielder began his loan on Feb. 3 and has been working double sessions since he arrived in southeast Mexico, hoping to catch up with his new teammates' fitness levels after missing out on the preseason.
The San Diego native took an important step to first-team minutes on Saturday, when he completed the full game for Chiapas’ Under-20s. And while every player obviously looks forward to his debut, playing in the Liga MX will be a little extra special for the former Philadelphia Union man.
“I was down here for a couple of years in the youth team at Club América and I didn’t get to debut there, so after that I went to MLS and I always had it in the back of my mind to debut in the first division in Mexico,” Farfan told MLSsoccer.com by phone.
The deal Farfan has with Jaguares includes an option to buy and the dual Mexico and United States passport holder is determined to make an impact as soon as possible.
“Basically, it’s like a showcase for me,” he explained. “I don’t have much time on my contract with MLS, so hopefully after that I can find a suitor down here. My main goal is to make a name for myself in the Mexican league.”
Farfan left on good terms with Chivas USA, who told him he would be welcomed back, and thinks that there is increased focus within Mexico for talent in the United States.
“I definitely think there is a trend,” Farfan said. “Herculez Gomez, [Jose] Torres … everyone knows that they are Mexican-American and more coaches [in Mexico] are realizing that there is more potential in the States.”
Over the last transfer window there was increased transfer movement between MLS and Liga MX, with Americans Jose Villarreal and Farfan's twin brother Michael joining Cruz Azul. Meanwhile, Brazilian Camilo Sanvezzo left Vancouver for Querétaro, while Benji Joya went the other way from Santos Laguna to the Chicago Fire.
Farfan believes it can be a positive for both leagues.
“I think MLS can benefit from people down here going up there and I think the Mexican league can benefit from American players,” he said, “I think a lot of people are taking notice and realizing that MLS has talent.”
If Farfan can make the impact he is hoping for, the criss-crossing of players between the Liga MX and MLS will likely only intensify that little bit more.
Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.