Gabriel Farfan joined Chivas USA in May in a trade with the Philadelphia Union. Leaving his twin brother's side there, the San Diego native moved closer to home, where it was hoped he would get a chance to show he was more than a utility player in MLS.
Though another player traded to Chivas, Eric Avila, did impress when given consistent minutes, I think it's safe to say Farfan did not have the same impact, and frankly, his 2013 stint with Chivas left many cold.
Let's start with his position. Though Michael Farfan had previously shown to have far more offensive aptitude than Gabriel, Garfan publicly said several times while in Philadelphia that he did not really like playing left back, though he would if he had to. So in Philly he played mostly in defense, though he kept talking up his skills in midfield and how he didn't get a chance to show his true game from the back.
Fair enough. That happens a lot in soccer.
But it really appears that Farfan's skills were best suited to the defensive responsibilities on the field. When he played on the left side of midfield or the center of midfield for Chivas, I didn't really see much to indicate that Farfan would blossom into an offensive asset.
Though there could be mitigating factors in this assessment, in that Chivas' tactics were all over the place, there simply wasn't enough quality on the attacking end all season for the team, and coaches may have instructed Farfan to defend first, I still didn't see anything to indicate that he was not being played in positions to make the most of his skills.
Here are Farfan's statistics with Chivas in 2013:
|Games Played||Games Started||Minutes||Goals||Assists||Shots||SOG||Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|MLS Regular Season||14||10||844||0||0||11||3||2||1|
|U.S. Open Cup||1||0||45||0||0||0||0||1||0|
I think the second attribute to look at with Farfan in 2013 is his conduct on the field. I've argued that every successful team needs players with grit, players who mix it up with opponents and who may play on a knife's edge at times to disrupt their opponents.
But more often than not, Farfan looked like he was making straight-up dirty plays. Of course, the worst incident was when he stomped on Shane O'Neill's leg in a 1-1 draw against the Colorado Rapids late in the season, and he was ejected and later suspended in that case. But that was even overshadowed by Tristan Bowen spitting at an opponent in the same game.
But Farfan too often looked like not just an annoying guy to play for opponents (again, something that can be a virtue), but someone who took it too far way too much.
I don't know, there could be a segment of Chivas fans that completely disagree with this assessment. That's fine. But in talking with fans, I've noticed I'm not the only one who thinks Farfan's shenanigans were more trouble than they were worth. And with Chivas trading away their first-round 2014 MLS SuperDraft pick for Farfan (that pick turns out to be number two overall), I'm not sure that the trade looks at all wise in hindsight.
Farfan trained with Chivas de Guadalajara when they were in town during the summer, and sounded pretty eager to move to Mexico, which further endeared him to Chivas USA fans, I think. On the other hand, I wouldn't be sorry to see him go, and with his brother moving to Cruz Azul this week, maybe Garfan can find a suitor in Liga MX.
But I doubt it. I think Farfan's ceiling is as a utility player in MLS. And it's safe to say he'll be back with Chivas USA in 2014.
The question moving into next season is what position will he play? I think he could develop into a holding midfielder, and he has the greatest chance of being successful in his career in that slot. His defensive skills, plus his, ahem, physical play would be put to best use in that position, though he could also turn into a red card machine.
Chivas also went the entire season without having a true left back on the squad, and if he reconsiders, he could continue to work on his game at that position and make it his own at the club.
But let's put the myth that Farfan will develop any true two-way game, or become an attacking weapon, to bed. If player and coach (whoever that's going to be) will come to an agreement on his best position, I think it will be best for all parties, and maybe Farfan can bounce back in 2014.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!