FRISCO, Texas - It was Wednesday, Feb. 9 and Marco Farfan was solely focused on preseason preparations ahead of his second year with Los Angeles FC. By that Saturday, he was starting his first game for FC Dallas.
FC Dallas traded for the 23-year-old fullback on Thursday, Feb. 10 using the long-serving utility man Ryan Hollingshead as a makeweight. The instant reaction was negative. Hollingshead was a fan-favorite, a leader, and a perceived FCD lifer having been drafted by the club in 2013. But, as the initial shock wore off, it started making more and more sense:
Farfan is seven years younger with 118 pro games already under his belt and a senior U.S. National Team cap to boot. And since Farfan was originally signed by the Portland Timbers as a Homegrown player, his Homegrown rights transferred from Portland to LAFC and now to Dallas, meaning Farfan falls under FCD's Supplementary roster and his salary doesn't count towards the club's salary cap. The trade also allowed Hollingshead, a California native, to return to his extended family on the West Coast.
Stylistically, it made even more sense under new head coach Nico Estévez. Farfan is a defense-first fullback who can contribute on the offensive side of things – essentially the opposite of what we saw from Hollingshead over the past three seasons under former coach Luchi Gonzalez, who preferred attacking fullbacks.
While the club's reasoning was sound, the trade was still abrupt and caught everyone, even the players involved, by surprise.
"When I found out at first, it was kind of stressful because it just happened out of nowhere," Farfan told FCDallas.com. "There weren't any rumors. I didn't hear about anything. But as soon as I got here, I was very excited.
"I already knew Nico (Estévez). I knew some of the guys here on the team. So as soon as I got here, I was very excited. It was a quick turnaround, I didn't even get to train with the team. My first time with the team was in a preseason game. But ever since, everyone has been making me feel welcome and make me feel at home. I've loved it so far."
Farfan has started every single FCD game since making his preseason debut on Feb. 12. And his presence on the backline has coincided with a much improved defensive record: Dallas has conceded just one goal from open play over its first first three MLS games, a stark contrast to the 56 total goals allowed over 2021 (which was third-most in MLS). Individually, Farfan leads the team in pressures in the defensive third (23) and is second to Matt Hedges for blocks (8) and clearances (8). He's also contributing to the attack with a team-high eight successful dribbles (next closest is Jáder Obrian with 3) and fouls drawn (8).
"I think he (Farfan) integrated very quickly to the team and idea of how we want to play offensively and defensively," head coach Estévez said. "I think defensively he's given us a lot of stability in the box and he's helping the center backs to be a little bit more brave when you have to challenge a ball in the air. He's covering crosses well also. Offensively, I think every game he's getting more confident to go higher on the pitch in providing us different ways to attack."
Farfan will look to continue his strong start in FCD colors this Saturday against his hometown team, Portland Timbers, where he was signed as the club's first Homegrown player back in 2016.
"I've played against them three times when I was in LA," Farfan said. "The first time I did have a lot of emotions, going back home and being on the other side. But I think right now it's just another game. I obviously have a lot of friends and family in Portland and a lot of friends on the team. But it's like any other game. It's another game against Portland, we know it's going to be a difficult game and we're going to try to get three points."
Military Appreciation Night
FC Dallas' match against Portland on March 19 is presented by Toyota. Throughout the night Dallas and Toyota will honor active-duty military personnel and veterans with their annual Military Appreciation Night. Fans are invited to remain in their seats for a postgame fireworks show.