Not every high school senior will be able to say at class on Monday that they played in and won an MLS game over the weekend. But for Portland Timbers defender Marco Farfan, he’ll have quite the story to share.
On Sunday, in the Timbers 1-0 win away at the LA Galaxy, Farfan became the youngest player ever to don a Portland MLS uniform coming in at 18 years, 120 days.
"It's a dream come true,” said Farfan after the match. “I don't think a kid can dream something better than this debuting, playing 90 minutes and getting a clean sheet with the guys out there.
"It was just fantastic."
For Farfan, the path from youth player to first teamer for Portland has been a fast trajectory. This past fall, he was signed as the Timbers’ first-ever Homegrown Player developed by the club’s academy system. The Gresham, Ore. native and current senior at Centennial High School, grew up a Timbers fan and played on one of the club’s youth alliance teams in Eastside Timbers. He progressed through the team’s academy before making 18 starts last year on T2 in the USL. A stalwart of U.S. youth national teams including the U-19s, Farfan played solidly throughout the Timbers preseason.
Then, following an injury to opening day left back Vytas, Timbers head coach Caleb Porter announced in his weekly press conference last week that Farfan would receive his first professional start against LA. Porter was pleased with how the young defender quickly meshed with the team in a gritty, tough win.
“It's not always about being pretty,” said Porter. “It’s about winning, and on the road, especially, you have to dig deep to win games. I thought our guys did that. We had some new guys in the lineup, some injuries to manage this week. Marco Farfan makes his debut at 18 years old and looked like he fits right in.”
Two weeks ago, Portland played LA in the team's final preseason match in Carson and won 2-1 with Farfan playing a solid full 90 in the match. This time around, the defender patrolled the left flank and led both teams with five tackles on the day. He also made a couple of key crosses including one late in the second half for midfielder Diego Valeri whose ensuing shot forced a diving stop from LA goalkeeper Clemént Diop.
“I knew that I can play against these guys," said Farfan. "I just wanted to keep the tempo and play my game.”
Come Monday, Farfan will be back at Centennial looking to continue a different tempo as he aims to finish his remaining requirements for his high school diploma later this spring.