The North Carolina midfield ace talks with Goal.com.By J.R. Eskilson
North Carolina lost three starting players from their national finalist team last year. Yet they currently have a higher ranking, and a better ACC record than last year. How could that be possible? A major reason has been the addition of Cal-State Fullerton transfer Michael Farfan.
The central midfielder, with U.S. residency pedigree, has been the leading scorer for the Tar Heels this season. He told Goal.com on Thursday that he tries to emulate his style after Diego, the Brazilian midfielder that plays his club ball for Juventus. It seems fitting that he would pick a player that transitioned just as seamlessly as Farfan did between leagues this season.
Last Spring, Farfan enrolled at Chapel Hill and got a jump start on his transition from Big West to ACC soccer.
"The competition is a bit higher in the ACC," Farfan said of the difference betweenthe Big West and ACC.
He also pointed out that every game had more significance in ACC play because of scheduling. In Big West play, every team plays a home and away series, in ACC it is only one game a year against your opponent. The lack of extra matches and chances to make up ground means, as Farfan says, “you must be able to win each game.”
That mentality currently has UNC third, 3-2-1, in the league with two games left. In comparison, UNC went 3-5-0 last season in league play.
This season has been monumental for Farfan for a few reasons. Besides the move from Southern California to Chapel Hill, this is also the first year for him without his twin brother, Gabriel, on his team, but Farfan said the brothers knew it couldn't last forever.
“We know each other so well and know each other’s tendencies on the field but we both knew we wouldn’t be on the same team forever,” he said before explaining that everything has worked out well for both brothers. “ Gabriel had a couple trials set up when I committed to UNC and now he is in Mexico playing so everything has worked out for the both of us.”
Before it all, the Farfans started out with the prized San Diego club, Nomads SC run by soccer legend David Armstrong.
“It was an amazing journey our team had throughout all the years of club soccer. We had a very talented team.” That team included the Farfan twins along with FC Dallas youngster Eric Avila. He said much of the success of the team came from the discipline taught from Armstrong and the program. That discipline was good enough to lead his Nomads team to a U-14 National Championship.
North Carolina fans are hoping Michael Farfan can bring that same success to finish this season. When asked about his expectations for the rest of the season he said the goals of the team are to win the ACC tournament and the National Championship.
“We are using these last four games to improve our play and make a successful postseason run.”
Considering this will be Farfan’s first trip to the NCAA tournament, those are some lofty goals, but the amount of talent wearing Tar Heel blue could make all those goals a possibility come December.
J.R. Eskilson writes a weekly NCAA column on Tuesday for Goal.com. Follow the College Soccer Professor at twitter.com/NCAAsoccer
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