MLS- Philadelphia Union

Valdes, Farfan shine in front of home fans at All-Star Game



CHESTER, Pa. — Carlos Valdes and Michael Farfan are used to playing at PPL Park, but they had never played in a game quite like last night, when each of them made their All-Star debuts in front of their home crowd.

When Aurelien Collin went down with a fractured cheekbone in the 36th minute, All-Star coach Ben Olsen called upon Valdes to fill in and play the rest of the match. The Colombian was up to the task, and his strong defensive play throughout the game showed why he was given a spot on the All-Star team in the first place.

"You could make a case that he could have started," said Olsen. "He’s as good as any centerback in the league."

While Valdes didn't get to start the match, he still put on a solid performance in place of Collin. In fact, Valdes' abilities could perhaps have been used a few minutes earlier. Collin took a knock around the 30th minute and had to leave the field. Valdes was ready to come in at that point, but instead Collin re-entered the game when Chelsea earned a corner kick in the 32nd minute. It was on that set piece that John Terry headed home to equalize the match, and Collin looked dazed on the play. Valdes came on moments later.

"It’s awesome playing with Henry, Beckham, Donovan and the rest of the teammates," Valdes said after the game. "It’s amazing. One of the best moments of my life. I'm really proud to be part of this game, of this great family. I'm really excited. I just want to say thanks to all the fans for their support."

Also making his All-Star debut on Wednesday night was midfielder Michael Farfan, who was rewarded for his strong play in his second year with a late selection to the roster. He came on in the 74th minute, replacing David Beckham, and drew a louder ovation than Beckham did.

"It was exciting. It’s something that we dream of as kids, to play against the European champions," said Farfan. "It’s an amazing feeling, especially to do it at home in front of the Sons of Ben, and all of our friends and family."

While Farfan may have dreamed of playing in the All-Star Game at some point, he probably never imagined that he would ever replace Beckham as a substitute, especially at PPL Park.

"I didn’t," said Farfan. "I never thought that would happen, but I'm excited that it did. I was just really happy to be out there with everyone. It's something that I'll remember for the rest of my life. To have all of these fans cheering, it was an amazing experience."

Union head coach John Hackworth was involved as well, serving as Olsen's assistant coach for the All-Star Game. He had high praise for Farfan.

"Michael, I can’t say enough about that kid," said John Hackworth. "He just comes in and he’s class, you know? His touch is good, he weights his passes good, he fits right in. He doesn't look out of place at all. I’m really happy for him."

Valdes, Farfan, Hackworth, and the rest of the Philadelphia Union now turn their attention back to league play, which they continue on Sunday when they host the New England Revolution at PPL Park.

  • Rowsdower

    wrong place but Japan beat Spain 1-0! and Mexico tied South Korea 0-0 this morning.


  • RLW2020

    as much as some vocal fans despise the All-Star game players seem to enjoy it.


  • Gnarls

    Especially the vets, it seems. I don’t know if the rewards outweigh the risks (ask Collin), but seeing Becks and Henry on the same team, and genuinely have a good time, was something special.


  • Charles

    I have always thought the guys complaining about soccer in the US are the guys worried it doesn’t look the same as Europe. Legit concerns or not….College soccer, parity, etc.

    The All-Star game would definitely fit right into that. Players, especially the ones that have played worldwide, wouldn’t care about that most likely.


  • PD

    I’m glad that Marfan got the recognition, but I have to say I’m surprised he got the nod above Adu… I really wish someone could shed some light on what’s been going on in the Philly locker room these past three weeks…


  • Gnarls

    Several of the guys on last night’s ASG roster are international superstars, and those same guys were wearing ear to ear grins during the post game. One said superstar felt it important enough to fly 3500 miles for the game, only to hop back on a plane and fly 3500 miles back to England.


  • DCLee

    Well said Gnarls and that superstar you are referring to may go down as one of the top 5 players all-time in the sport if you consider his off the field importance to the game worldwide.


  • Joe

    Honestly M. Farfan has been better than Adu. Since Hackworth took the reigns the team as a whole has been better but outside of Jack Mac and Hop, Farfan seems to have shown the most improvement since the departure of Nowak. The year started off where Farfan was not following up on his ROY of the year nomination, slowly started improving but has been better since the change. Adu has shown flashes but not consistency. Maybe it is just simply that Farfan fits better into the overall scheme of the Union because I do think Adu has serious potential.


  • GW

    I haven’t seen Adu play with the Union under Hackworth so maybe you can tell me.

    Does Adu play centrally? It seems to me that if you want him as a 90 minute guy then you will get the most out of him in the hole behind the center forward. Whenever he gets deployed out wide he tends to drift in and out of games.

    Otherwise, his best role is as a Benny Feilhaber type (offensive only) sub.


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