Union Notes: Farfan makes most of rare call

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Union Notes: Farfan makes most of rare call

CHESTER, Pa. -- It’s extremely rare and even more controversial.

But as Michael Farfan lined up for a game-deciding indirect free kick on Friday night in the Union's 3-1 win over Chivas USA (see story), he knew exactly what he wanted to do.

“We knew they were going to have the whole team in the goal,” said Farfan, who was set up at the top of the opposition’s crease in the 82nd minute. “I figured the only place it could possibly go in was under the crossbar and above their heads. I set up to do that and fortunately it worked.”

Taking a soft touch from Sebastien Le Toux, Farfan, previously scoreless on the season, confidently fired off a right-footed roof shot that whipped under the crossbar and in the net. The charging Chivas defenders were helpless to prevent it.

“We saw where it was located,” Farfan said of the placement. “[Le Toux] knew where I wanted it and he put it there.”

The play was called as a result of an illegal back pass from Edgar Mejia to goalkeeper Dan Kennedy in the box. The broken play was argued by Chivas but referee Jorge Gonzalez could not be moved.

When asked about the last time he saw an indirect free kick, Union captain Brian Carroll had trouble remembering.

“It’s been a while,” Carroll said. “I think it happened once or twice in my professional career, but it happens a lot growing up. Credit to the guys for taking care of that opportunity. It’s not easy, though it may look close to the goal.

“You don’t practice it because it happens so infrequently. It’s playground ball stuff.”

Union coach John Hackworth was impressed with how confidently Farfan took the shot.

“These players are experienced enough that they’ve gone through it a number of times,” the coach said. “You have to get a touch on it and once you do that, pick your spot on frame. He decided to go over their heads. Michael was lining that up for two minutes. You could tell he was going there.”

Hackworth facing suspension
Before Gonzalez tossed Chivas’ Josue Soto with a red card and handed the Union the indirect free kick, he quietly ejected Hackworth in the 77th minute.

Though a red card wasn’t shown to Hackworth for dissent, the ejection counts as such. Barring MLS intervention, the call will leave the Union without a head coach for next Saturday’s match against the Portland Timbers at PPL Park.

“There’s a lot of things puzzling about the whole thing,” Hackworth said. “I don’t know why I was red-carded and thrown out of the game. I thought there was a clear handball that didn’t get called.”

Union assistant Rob Vartughian is expected to take his spot on the bench.

“I was upset because I thought there was a player,” Hackworth said. “I thought the player clearly takes his elbow and knocks the ball. That’s a handball in the box. I tell the fourth official, probably a little too emotional, that I thought it was a handball. I didn’t use profanity. Then Jorge came over and I go through the motion of how I thought the player made the handball and he threw me out.

“I haven’t been thrown out in a long time and usually you have to say something to get thrown out. I guess my actions were too much.”

Andre Blake the Union's first MLS Best XI team member since 2010

Andre Blake the Union's first MLS Best XI team member since 2010

Andre Blake continues to rack up the accolades.

A couple of weeks after being named MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, the rising Philadelphia Union star was named to the MLS Best XI team as one of the league’s top players in 2016.

The rest of the team included:

• Forwards Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC), David Villa (New York City FC) and Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York Red Bulls)
• Midfielders Ignacio Piatti (Montreal Impact), Sacha Kljestan (Red Bulls), Mauro Diaz (FC Dallas) and Giovani dos Santos (LA Galaxy)
• Defenders Matt Hedges (FC Dallas), Axel Sjoberg (Colorado Rapids) and Jelle Van Damme (Galaxy)

Blake’s inclusion on the Best XI is not a surprise considering he already took home top goalkeeper honors. Even though he didn’t have the best numbers in the league, he made the spectacular look ordinary in his first full season as an MLS starter.

But it is unique for the Union, who haven’t had a player make the Best XI since Sebastien Le Toux was included for his 14-goal, 11-assist effort in Philly's 2010 expansion season.

Union winger Chris Pontius, who recently won the 2016 MLS Breakout Player of the Year award, made Best XI while with D.C. United in 2012. Former Union players to be honored on the prestigious list were Bakary Soumare with Chicago in 2008 and Justin Mapp with Chicago in 2006.

Another big honor like this will likely only increase the chatter that Blake could be sold to a big team in Europe soon. But a couple of weeks ago, the Union goalkeeper insisted his only focus for 2017 is on Philadelphia.

“From a personal standpoint, I’m hoping to have an even better season than 2016,” he said at the time. “To be able to go in and be consistent and do everything I can for the Union — and maybe be the goalkeeper to get them their first [MLS] Cup.”

Bruce Arena rehired as U.S. soccer coach to replace Jurgen Klinsmann

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The Associated Press

Bruce Arena rehired as U.S. soccer coach to replace Jurgen Klinsmann

NEW YORK -- Bruce Arena is returning to coach the U.S. national soccer team, a decade after he was fired.

The winningest coach in American national team history, Arena took over Tuesday, one day after Jurgen Klinsmann was fired. The 65-year-old Arena starts work Dec. 1.

With the U.S. 0-2 in the final round of World Cup qualifying for the first time, the U.S. Soccer Federation wants to spark a turnaround when competition resumes March 24 with a home game against Honduras followed four days later with a match at Panama.

"We need to build the chemistry of this team and have a common goal and really work on a team concept," Arena said during a telephone news conference. "I really believe individually and positionally we have good players and we've just got to get them working together as a team.

"There are no real secrets on how you build good teams: It takes a lot of hard work, it takes communication, it takes discipline and it takes some talent, and I think we have enough talent to build a good team and end up in Russia 2018. It's going to take a little time, a little bit patience and a lot of hard work."

Arena first took over as national team coach after the 1998 World Cup and led the U.S. to a 71-30-29 record. His contract runs through the 2018 World Cup.

"I don't view it as Bruce 2, but sort of Bruce 2.0," U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati said. "I think he's got far more experience than he did when he had the national team the first go-round. He's proven and reproven many times at all levels of the game in the United States that he's an extraordinarily capable and successful coach."

A wisecracking Brooklynite known for blunt talk and sarcasm, Arena coached the University of Virginia to five NCAA titles from 1978-95, then led D.C. United to titles in Major League Soccer's first two seasons before losing in the 1998 final. He guided the Americans to the team's best World Cup finish since 1930, a 1-0 loss to Germany in the 2002 quarterfinals.

Arena was let go after the team's first-round elimination by Ghana in 2006. He coached the New York Red Bulls of MLS from July 2006 to November 2007, then was hired the following August by the Galaxy. He led the team to MLS titles in 2011, 2012 and 2014.

Arena was inducted into the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2010.

"I think 10 years later I'm better prepared for this job than I was in 1998 and 2002 and ultimately 2006, so I'm hopeful the experiences I had are going to benefit the program," he said. "One of the things you learn from experience is you see things a lot clearer and a lot quicker than you did previously, and the game has slowed down a bit, where I can see as a coach in my position how things are happening on the field.