Michael Farfan’s emergence as a playmaker in John Hackworth’s revamped Philadelphia Union has been rewarded with a spot in Wednesday’s Major League Soccer All-Star gameday roster.
While being a locally-based player may be a factor here, Farfan’s play under Hackworth has been all-star caliber. His goal and four assists in 17 games understates the impact he’s had since Peter Nowak was replaced. The former North Carolina Tar Heel has been their best player this summer.
The 24-year-old midfield comes into the team as a late replacement for … nobody?
Yeah, it looks like that’s right. Farfan’s addition isn’t compensating for a player withdrawal, the typical reason you see this kind of late call-in. Olsen’s adjusting to a late rule change, one made to accomodate Chelsea’s preseason preparations. The European champions requested Wednesday’s match expand from seven substitutes to 10.
The issue came up Sunday in New York, with Roberto Di Matteo saying (after Chelsea’s match with Paris Saint-Germain) he would have to compensate for Wednesday’s limit on subs. The Chelsea boss is slowly working his regulars up to 90 minutes, with many first choice players bumped up to 60 on Sunday (after playing 45 in Seattle).
With only two days off between matches, Chelsea’s regulars are unlikely to get a huge bump in playing time. Philadelphia’s summer heat doesn’t help, either. If the Blues were limited to seven subs, four starters would have to make it to 90 minutes. That formula forces Di Matteo to pick four players he’d be willing to risk playing a full match. Odds are those four wouldn’t be among Chelsea’s best players.
That would be fine under normal circumstances, but Chelsea’s still integrating the group that participated in Euro 2012. John Terry and Ashley Cole made their first preseason appearances in New York. Fernando Torres and Raul Meireles have yet to play this summer. This team is still a long way from being ready for the start of their season.