You all know by now that Gabriel Farfan is back in town for the first time since the Union traded him to Chivas USA in May. So I don't need to do much of an introduction, except to say that I sat down with him for an exclusive interview Thursday afternoon.
How does it feel to be back in Philadelphia?
It's awesome. I'm really, really glad that I got the chance to have an away game here at PPL Park this season.
You've experienced the receptions that former Union players have gotten when returning here with opposing teams. How do you expect to be treated by the fans Friday night?
I still get along with very many fans here so I'm sure I'll hear some funny comments. But I know in the end – during the game we're enemies, but afterward I'll be able to go and give them hugs and move on.
Michael was talking with the media this week about playing against you, and he said he doesn't really think you two will be running into each other much on the field. What's your view on that, and how much have the two of you talked about it?
We haven't talked too much about it. I honestly don't think we'll run into each other too much on the field either - everyone's hyping up some crazy brawl or something like that.
You've been playing in a lot of different positions with Chivas across defense and midfield, I'd say even more than you played here. What's your preferred position at this point?
I have moved around quite a bit, but for the majority of minutes I've been playing center midfield. It was the same deal when I got here with the Union - my first few games I was in four or five different positions. So it hasn't changed too much.
You went through a coaching change here in Philadelphia when Peter Nowak was fired. As an outsider I'd say that what Chivas USA has gone through moving from José Luis Sánchez Solá to José Luis Real has been a different kind of ride, because of the way “El Chélis” came and went in such a short time. What was the experience like for you as a player on the team?
It wasn't too much different. I got there [to Chivas] and a week later the coaching staff changed. So I hadn't gotten too acclimated to their style.
For people who watch Chivas from the outside, whatever they may say positively or negatively about what the team has gone through, there's certainly a perception that this team does things differently from others in MLS. Is that fair?
Yeah, we do things differently, because we have an affiliation to a team in a different league. I think it's a great thing that we're keeping in close contact with the mother club [Chivas Guadalajara in Mexico], and it's awesome to aspire to play there at some point in our careers.
On a day-to-day basis, is the way José Luis Real runs the team - training sessions, the vibe from coaches and so forth - different from your other experiences in American soccer?
Every coach has his different tweaks and methods, but I see him doing things that I did here in Philly. But I also see changes. So it's different, but at the same time, usually the basics are always the same.
Does it help you having played in Mexico before, that perhaps you can better anticipate how a new teammate might play when he comes up here from Mexico?
It definitely helps me. I'm in a locker room where the majority of people are Hispanic, so I feel comfortable. It's good to have people who understand different styles.
How much of a role do you and the other American players on Chivas USA have in helping the players who come from the Mexican club to get acclimated to life in the United States?
It's a big job. Obviously, us moving to any other league, we'd have difficulty as well. We need to take it upon ourselves to help them out as much as we can, whether it be looking for housing or just the style of play and how physical MLS is.
There's been a fair amount of roster turnover on your team. Talk about developing chemistry on the field with the guys who have come up from Mexico recently.
It's important that we start building chemistry soon. Obviously we haven't been getting the greatest results, but as of lately, as soon as coach Real got here, he has taken us back to the basics and I feel like we have been improving tremendously. So it's only a matter of time before we keep improving more and more, and we get that chemistry that we need.
Do you have a sense of a particular kind of style that Real wants to play?
Yeah. He teaches his methods and style every day in training.
You guys just signed former U.S. national team captain Carlos Bocanegra. How big is that in terms of bringing stability to the club, and what does it mean to be playing with him?
It's big-time. To have a player of his caliber, his leadership skills are going to help us a lot. He speaks Spanish too. I feel like he's going to integrate well with us.
One question about your old team. You aren't going to have to play against Jack McInerney but I'm sure you've watched him flourish both when you were here and since you've left. What do you make of what he's done this year and his potential?
We've all known what Jack was capable of since I got here two and a half years ago. It's great to see him performing to his potential and I feel like he can only get better with the guys that are around him here in Philly. Hopefully he keeps getting looks with the national team.