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How One Meaningless Goal Earned Michael Farfan a Free Pass From Union Fans

How One Meaningless Goal Earned Michael Farfan a Free Pass From Union Fans

It was beautiful. It inspired gasps. It appeared on highlight shows in Europe, where fans were exposed to the blue and gold of a team called "Philadelphia Union."

It was one goal in a meaningless friendly. And it has somehow earned Michael Farfan a nearly two-year free pass from Union fans.

[nbcsports_video src=http://www.youtube.com/embed/DkdEWb8WFrQ service=youtube width=590 height=332]

That YouTube video alone has been viewed 315,000 times -- and there are others (without the awesome Spanish "goal-azooooooo" call).

It was a friendly in July, 2011, when the Union hosted world powerhouse Real Madrid at Lincoln Financial Field. The Union lost the game, but did not embarrass themselves against star players who make more than their entire roster.

But now, nearly two years after that moment, it stands as a strange career milestone for the 24-year-old Farfan.

Ask any Union fan for their favorite moment in team history. Very few will mention the team's high-profile friendly matches. Matches that have included Real Madrid, Manchester United, Celtic and Everton. But ask any fan for their favorite Michael Farfan moment, and you'll hear, "Oh, that goal against Real Madrid. That was awesome!"

What has he done since?

This year, Farfan has zero goals and zero assists. He has 12 "shots" and five "shots on goal" (statistics that are dodgy, at best, all around when it comes to soccer). Yet he has started seven of the team's eight games.

Last year, Farfan had one goal and five assists in 32 games (31 starts). He made the All-Star Team, but as a late fill-in who was added to the roster mostly because the game took place at PPL Park and he didn't have to get on a plane to make the team's lone practice.

His best meaningful highlight was that one goal, and a beautiful assist -- to help the Union earn a surprising road win over LA Galaxy last July.

[nbcsports_video src=http://p.mlssoccer.com/SAu5a/video/1054196/1054196_2012-07-05-005736.640hq.mp4 service=mlssoccer width=590 height=332]

My question is not, "What happened to Michael Farfan?" I don't have an answer to that. My question is, "Why isn't anyone asking that question?.

Freddy Adu had a band of haters that could fill PPL Park a few times over. First-round pick Zac MacMath has been openly questioned more than once. Hell, even the re-acquisition of Sebastian Le Toux inspired far more skepticism than I expected.

Through it all, whether Peter Nowak or John Hackworth was holding the pregame pen, "M. Farfan" has appeared in the Union's Starting XI. Why?

Through much of last year, I questioned why he didn't receive half the criticism of Adu. Adu's lofty salary in comparison was a frequent -- and valid -- excuse. But this year, I have often walked out of PPL Park and openly wondered if Farfan was on the field at all.

He was advertised as somewhat of a "playmaker," and is deployed as such in a lineup severely lacking in playmaking. He should have more assists than goals, but he should also have far more moments that make you take notice.

During an uneventful 10-minute span in the second half of last Saturday's game against Seattle, I focused all my attention on Farfan, whether he was near the ball or not.

Most of his time was spent watching from afar, occasionally moving to make himself available for a pass, before immediately looking to pass it again. Not once did he try to create a forward move, not once did he take on a defender one-on-one, and, more often than not, he passed the ball laterally or backward (sadly, he's not the worst offender in the negative-pass department, ::cough:: Brian Carroll).

After that game, Hackworth mentioned Farfan's minutes (in a roundabout way). This from Philly.com's Jonathan Tannenwald, on Gabriel Farfan, Michael's brother:

"He's competing right now with his brother [Michael] for playing time. When called upon today he did his job and he did it very well."

I don't necessarilly agree that Gabriel should be the one competing with Michael for minutes (that's another story), but the fact that Hackworth will at least mention that possibility that Michael won't be in the lineup might be enough to motivate the player.

Every game, one hour before kickoff, the Union's starting lineup is released. I see tweets and hear parking lot comments questioning this player or that one. Hell, the Danny Cruz hate alone could keep a Twitter feed full for hours (p.s., I was happy to inspire Danny's two-goal showing with my post last week).

But I have not once heard, "Ugh, why is Michael Farfan starting again?"

Maybe it's time to at least ask the question.

CSNPhilly Internship - Advertising/Sales

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CSNPhilly Internship - Advertising/Sales

Position Title: Intern
Department: Advertising/Sales
Company: Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia
# of hours / week: 10 – 20 hours

Deadline: November 20

Basic Function

This position will work closely with the Vice President of Sales in generating revenue through commercial advertisements and sponsorship sales. The intern will gain first-hand sales experience through working with Sales Assistants and AEs on pitches, sales-calls and recapping material.

Duties and Responsibilities

• Assist Account Executive on preparation of Sales Presentations
• Cultivate new account leads for local sales
• Track sponsorships in specified programs
• Assist as point of contact with sponsors on game night set up and pre-game hospitality elements.
• Assist with collection of all proof of performance materials.
• Perform Competitive Network Analysis
• Update Customer database
• Other various projects as assigned

Requirements

1. Good oral and written communication skills.
2. Knowledge of sports.
3. Ability to work non-traditional hours, weekends & holidays
4. Ability to work in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment
5. Must be 19 years of age or older
6. Must be a student in pursuit of an Associate, Bachelor, Master or Juris Doctor degree
7. Must have unrestricted authorization to work in the US
8. Must have sophomore standing or above
9. Must have a 3.0 GPA

Interested students should apply here and specify they're interested in the ad/sales internship.

About NBC internships

Phillies-Dodgers observations: Phils lose, 5-4, fail to sweep MLB-best Dodgers

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Phillies-Dodgers observations: Phils lose, 5-4, fail to sweep MLB-best Dodgers

BOX SCORE

The Los Angeles Dodgers scored twice in the seventh inning to take the lead for good, en route to a 5-4 victory over the Phillies on Thursday afternoon.

Los Angeles, which salvaged the last game of the four-game series and snapped a four-game losing streak, sliced its magic number to clinch its fifth straight NL West championship to one.

The Phillies finished a 10-game homestand with a 7-3 mark, and lost for just the fourth time in 12 games.

With the Dodgers down 4-3, veteran outfielder Andre Ethier led off the eighth with a pinch-hit homer off Phils reliever Ricardo Pinto (1-2). Chris Taylor followed with a triple, and one out later Cody Bellinger drove him in with a grounder to Rhys Hoskins at first base.

Warren Buehler (1-0), the fourth of seven Dodgers pitchers, earned the victory with an inning of scoreless relief. Kenley Jansen worked 1 1/3 innings to earn his 39th save.

Here are some observations:

• Hoskins gave the Phillies a 4-2 lead when he smoked a 2-0 offering from Los Angeles reliever Josh Fields, a 98 mph fastball, up the gap in left-center for a two-run double in the fifth. 

• Nick Williams hit a first-pitch changeup from Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda for an opposite-field two-run homer in the third, erasing a 2-0 deficit. It was Williams’ 11th homer in 74 games with the Phillies this season.

• J.P. Crawford, a natural shortstop, made no fewer than four outstanding plays at third base, the first two on groundballs off the bat of Logan Forsythe, and the last two on bouncers by Austin Barnes. In the second, Crawford dove to his left to snag Forsythe’s smash and threw to second for the force, and in the fourth he short-hopped a slowly hit bouncer and fired to first. In the fifth, Crawford ranged to his left to flag down Barnes’ grounder, and with Taylor at third and the infield up in the seventh again, Crawford snagged a ball off Barnes’ bat. The runner, Chris Taylor, wound up scoring anyway, on Bellinger’s infield out.

 • Mark Leiter Jr. was left with a no-decision after going six innings and allowing three runs (one earned) on five hits, while striking out three and walking one. The first two batters he faced in the top of the first reached, but only one of them scored, on Yasiel Puig’s sacrifice fly. Leiter surrendered an unearned run in the third, and Curtis Granderson’s solo homer in the sixth.

• Victor Arano had quite the adventure in his inning on the mound. He entered in the eighth inning, after Hoby Milner walked pinch-hitter Kiki Hernandez, and proceeded to strike out the next two hitters. Then he walked two, to loaded the bases, before retiring Taylor on a groundout to end the inning. Arano threw 21 pitches, 10 for strikes. 

• Maeda departed after three innings, having allowed two runs on three hits.

• The Phillies saw their 100-inning errorless string end five pitches into the game, when left fielder Aaron Altherr misplayed a single by Taylor, the Dodgers’ leadoff hitter.  

• Los Angeles 3B Justin Turner was hit on the right hand by a Leiter pitch in the first inning. He later left the game, and while X-rays were negative, he was diagnosed with a bruised thumb.

• The Phillies’ final road trip of the season consists of three games, beginning Friday in Atlanta. RHP Ben Lively (3-6, 3.94) opposes LHP Sean Newcomb (3-8, 4.32).