Valdes, Farfan grateful for All-Star support
CHESTER, Pa. -- When the Union’s Carlos Valdes and Michael Farfan were selected for the 2012 MLS All-Star game at PPL Park, the honor alone was extraordinary.
But when the two stepped on the field to deafening cheers and chants from the record-breaking home crowd of 19,236, the emotion of the moment was overwhelming.
“I just want to say thanks to all the fans for their support,” Valdes, the Union’s captain and center back, said. “I’m very proud and very excited about this night. This night has been one of the best nights of my life.
Farfan, selected late on Monday night to the All-Star team that defeated Chelsea FC, 3-2, via Eddie Johnson's extra-time goal, was equally struck by the immense fan support. It was a moment he couldn’t shake.
“It was exciting, it’s something we dream of as kids to play against the European champions,” the 24-year-old midfielder said. “It’s an amazing feeling to do it at home in front of the [Union support group] Son’s of Ben and our friends and family.
“It’s something I will remember for the rest of my life, to have all these fans cheering, it’s an amazing experience.”
Valdes entered the contest in the 35th minute for Sporting Kansas City’s Aurelien Collin. While he was warming up, the supporter’s section in the river end of PPL Park was chanting and cheering. When the defender hit the field, the building erupted in a frenzy.
The same happened for Farfan when he came in for David Beckham in the 74th minute.
“That gave me chills, to be honest,” said San Jose Earthquakes striker and MLS leading scorer Chris Wondolowski. “Every time they touched the ball the crowd was cheering, especially when they came on. The people here have love for their players. The players did a great job, they worked hard.”
Union coach and All-Star assistant coach John Hackworth had a similar experience watching his players receive such support on such a huge stage.
“It gave me goosebumps, it was incredible,” said Hackworth. “It’s fantastic and it was great for our fans to see that and embrace Carlos and Michael. It was just fantastic.”
Between the ovation and good play, the two quiet and businesslike talents did not go unnoticed to All-Star and DC United coach Ben Olsen, who had nothing but good things about the pair.
“Valdes, you could make the case for him to start this game,” said Olsen. “He’s as good as any center back in this league. And Michael, he’s a real talent and he’s fun to watch. He’s doing a great job here for Philly.”
While Valdes couldn’t help but be moved by the electric atmosphere, above everything, he was thankful.
“It feels unbelievable,” said Valdes. “I just want to say thanks to all the people who made this possible. I’m really proud to be part of this great family.
“To play with [Thierry] Henry, Beckham, [Landon] Donovan, and the rest of the players, it’s amazing and one of the best experience of my life.”E-mail Ryan Bright at RyanBright13@comcastsportsnet.com