Gabriel Farfan

Beasley, Orozco among Puebla players protesting against missing paychecks

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Puebla FC has slipped to 15th in the Liga MX’s Clausura table, but the on-field problems are just the tip of the iceberg.

The players, including U.S. internationals DaMarcus Beasley and Michael Orozco, aren’t getting paid. And we don’t mean “Eddie Johnson wants a raise” getting paid, we mean a distinct lack of paychecks.

So Beasley and Orozco were among many of the their teammates as they publicly protested their wage crisis. While Puebla’s president came out Monday to say the players were owed for the last 15 days worth of work, team captain Luis Noriega laid out much deeper burdens than just over a fortnight.

From MLSSoccer.com:

“We want to say that this squad is owed from a month and a half to three months (wages), corresponding to the months of November, January and February, as well as bonuses from last season,” said Noriega.

The report from Tom Marshall says two other MLS connections are on teams facing money problems. Chiapas FC (Gabriel Farfan) and Queretaro (Camilo Sanvezzo) are two more clubs in a bad state.

Surely, the Whitecaps are laughing at the latter bit of news.

Beasley signed a new deal at Puebla this summer, but what good is a contract if it isn’t getting fulfilled? Surely there are plenty of clubs that could use the veterans service across North America.

Sounders win appeal of Obafemi Martins red card

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Simon Borg at the league’s official website does a great job of breaking down the weekend’s controversial calls. This week, one of the highlights was the Obafemi Martins red card incurred at Chivas USA, referee Ricardo Salazar having judged the Sounder striker kicked out at Gabriel Farfan in the 70th minute.

Of course, since it was Salazar that made the call, Sounders fans were even more enraged by what would have still been viewed as an unfair call (their heightened demonization of Salazar is nothing new). But the official was right on the scene when Farfan and Martins collided. And, as Borg notes, what looked like a well-after-the-whistle jab back at the new Chivas man could have been seen as violent conduct.

Here’s the video and his analysis, starting at 2:47:

[youtube http://youtu.be/SchsV8MkQs8?t=2m47s]

It’s not the most convincing red card, but Borg makes a good case. On the surface, there have definitely been worse decisions.

That doesn’t mean it was the right call, something Major League Soccer affirmed today, electing to uphold Seattle’s appeal of the Nigeria striker’s suspension:

An independent review panel has rescinded the fine and one-game suspension for a red card issued to Seattle Sounders FC forward Obafemi Martins in the 71st minute of Sunday’s game against Chivas USA. Martins will be eligible for Seattle’s game this Saturday against Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

I could go either way on this one. If Salazar’s close enough to make that call, I’m going to trust him. And if Borg breaks it down and makes a good case, even better. But if the review panel heard something compelling from the Sounders — something so compelling that they’re willing to overturn the decision — I’m willing to give that the benefit of the doubt.

So congratulations to the Sounders, who get Martins back for Saturday’s derby against Vancouver. But also, well done by the review panel to be willing to look beyond an ‘it could go either way’ video and hear Seattle’s case. It must have been a compelling one.

Major League Soccer team previews: PHILADELPHIA UNION

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Each day from now until the beginning of Major League Soccer’s 18th season, we will preview one Eastern Conference team and one from the West. MLS first kick is March 2.

No. 6 in the East is the Philadelphia Union:

Significant additions and subtractions: After two injury-slowed years, Conor Casey is healthy and motivated by the sounds of it. If the former Colorado Rapids striker, who moved east in an offseason trade, can find 2010 form (he hit 13 times, tied for sixth best in MLS) the Union will have that veteran finisher so dearly missed last year.

Along with popular forward Sebastian Le Toux, who remains the team’s all-time leading scorer despite a year away, is back thanks to a January trade with New York.

Elite center back Carlos Valdes has been loaned to a Colombian club; Jeff Parke, acquired from Seattle in December, isn’t quite of Valdes’ quality, but he’s a reliable MLS defender.

And then there’s Freddy Adu, who isn’t yet technically gone, but he’s certainly not with the team, either. Keep reading.

Strengths: everything to like and not to like is contained in the brat pack of wonderful young talent around PPL Park: Zak MacMath, Jack McInerney , Roger Torrres, Antoine HoppenotAmobi Okugo, Sheanon Willliams are all 22 or younger. The Farfan brothers, Michael and Gabriel, are just 24. Most of them have MLS All-Star potential.

Of course, they are still young. Head coach John Hackworth, blessed with ample patience and equipped with plenty of experience working with younger types, is the right guy to have around them, to nurse them through the inevitable boo-boos and rough patches. That said, there will be mistakes and rough patches.

There’s plenty of playmaking potential in Torres and Michael Farfan. And with Casey and Le Toux around, the 20-year-old McInerney need not feel the crushing pressure of having to arrive as a scoring force now.

Guys like Casey, Parke and Brian Carroll add some wizened stability to a locker room full of youth.

Pressure points: When Hackworth talks about roster “constraints” and “challenges,” we all know what he’s talking about: Adu, whose career wanderings continue. Hackworth wants to move on without the mercurial playmaker, but the club is hog-tied until it can get Adu’s DP salary off the books.

We are all assuming center back Bakary Soumare still looks like the game-changer we knew in Chicago, but it has been four years since he ruled as such a force at Toyota Park.

The talented MacMath, 21, had more than his share meaningful mess-ups last year. It seems naïve to believe he’s completely past all of them.

There still may be some hangover effect of 2012, and what an odd year it was around PPL Park. Then-coach Peter Nowak tore apart a playoff team, one that seemed to be on the rise. Things clearly were strained behind the scenes and Nowak was fired in June, later to get tangled in a nasty lawsuit with the club.

Hackworth must find the best spot for young Okugo, who filled in splendidly at center back in 2012 but seems set to occupy a holding midfield role for ‘13.

source:

Difference maker: LeToux (pictured right) departed Philadelphia a year ago and got completely lost. He scored five goals while moving coast to coast mid-season, from Vancouver to New York. Perhaps being back in his happy place at PPL Park, where Le Toux struck for a whopping 25 goals between the 2010 and 2011 seasons, can make an All-Star of the Frenchman once again.

Potential breakout player: It could be Michael Farfan – but only if he can hold off Torres as Hackworth’s creative influence. Farfan had some remarkable moments last year but the final production (one goal, five assists) must improve. It should, considering the measurably better striker in front of him now.

Bottom line: Last year was all about stabilizing a listing ship; now with a full off-season (short as it was) and with a talented young roster more to his liking, Hackworth can try to move things forward. Whether his team has enough experience to get there … we’ll see.

(MORE: the entire roster of ProSoccerTalk’s Major League Soccer previews and predictions)

Let’s talk about Chivas USA, confidence and … tampering?

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Let’s go over a super-duper quick checklist of things Chivas USA does and does not have:

Enough players? Not really.

Sufficient talent in the players they do have? Probably not.

A plan that’s either madness or shear genius? Yep.

Self-assurance at high levels? Oh, heavens yes.

Michael and Gabriel Farfan? Not yet!

Possible tampering charges ahead? Seems like it.

Two important things to learn from Jeff Carlisle’s extensive piece on the 2013 version of Chivas USA, which looks suspiciously like the 2005 version of Chivas USA – which derailed spectacularly:

First, manager Jose Luis Sanchez Sola, a charismatic type who goes by El Chelis, has stockpiles of confidence in his own ability. (Which is great, because we’re talking real alchemy here if he can spin gold from the current roster.)

Here’s what he told Carlisle about the difference between his team and the 2005 side that turned out to be crazy bad (four wins in 32 contests is the very definition of “crazy bad”):

In 2005, the owners have this idea, but don’t give it to Chelis. Now they have the Mexican players, the American Latino players and Chelis.”

So there you go. Let’s hope the man doesn’t bust his arm patting himself on the back.

Here’s the other thing to learn about Chelis from the article at ESPN FC: Chivas’ new man in charge reminds us how little he (really, anyone in the organization) understands MLS ins and outs.

Maybe a fine for tampering will kick-start the education process ahead.

See, Carlisle mentions how Chelis mentioned the desire to add Michael and Gabriel Farfan, the talented brothers from PPL Park in Philadelphia. They fit the Chivas USA model because they are Latino. Which is great, except for this:

They are under contract!

And talking about players under contract is a big no-no for club officials – as Chelis may soon discover.

Anyone remember when Alexi Lalas took a haircut for the speaking about Freddy Adu? That was one of the more high-profile “tampering” shenanigans.

The guess here is that Chelis meant nothing malicious. He wasn’t trying to send the Farfans a message through ESPN channels. He just didn’t know.

But that underscores the point: he doesn’t understand the pool into which he just dived head first.

He’ll learn. And sink or swim, it will be a hoot to watch.