Ohio Hopeful: Farsi Set To Sign With Crew 2
The newly-minted affiliate side of Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew is set to launch in just two month’s time, with Crew GM Tim Bezbatchenko keen to utilize the side as a direct player pathway up to the club’s senior team.
Farsi, 22, has proven to be an exemplary full-back in the Canadian Premier League. He followed an unassuming arrival with Cavalry FC to put in a U-21 Canadian Player of the Year caliber campaign at the Island Games, eventually going on to make 38 appearances for the club across two individually superb seasons.
The attack-minded right-back scored once across each campaign as head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. helped him transform into a potent attacker, with Farsi even scoring the El Jimador Shot of the Year in 2020:
The Alberta-based side had hoped to keep ahold of the young full-back, but Farsi couldn’t be swayed to stay: after turning down multiple contract offers, Saelhof says his next steps are now locked in with the Crew 2. The newly-minted club will participate in the inaugural MLS Next Pro season this March, sharing the high quality training facilities commanded by the Columbus Crew itself.
“I just want a new challenge,” says Farsi of the move, “and I think it’s the right moment after two good seasons to move on and try to find the next challenge and move to the next level.”
Cavalry head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr had clearly given retaining him a good go, but it wasn’t meant to be.
“We love the lad, first and foremost. He’s a great player and really excited, and what I liked about him is he was hungry enough after getting rejected after all those trials and that hungry transcended with us into 2020 when he got U-21 player of the year.”
With the award in hand, an ever-humble Farsi stated he just was set to keep his head down and put the work in so that he could keep improving. That he did.
The former futsal phenom had beat out former York United defender Steven Furlano to a roster spot in 2020, signing his first professional deal as a relative unknown. He had faced CPL opposition while with AS Blainville in the Canadian Championship a year prior, and arrived to Spruce Meadows as a fast-footed full-back ready to terrorize CPL defenses from coast-to-coast.
Now armed with 38 professional appearances under his belt and a good reputation from his time in Canada’s top flight, it’ll be interesting to see how Farsi performs in MLS Next Pro. There’s a lot of unknowns about the MLS’s new affiliate professional league, though the same could have been said about the CPL just three years ago.
Still, there are many who think that Farsi’s move comes as a lateral one – though how it ultimately pans out for his career remains to be seen. If it helps him secure an eventual move to Major League Soccer, it will be seen as a success.
Wheeldon Jr acquiesced that the youngster’s ambition had risen above that of the domestic top league in Canada. “For some,” he says, “it’s never about the money – it’s about the fire. He had that fire in him and wanted to go to Europe or the MLS. We wish him the best of luck.”
The financials of the Crew 2 aren’t clear at the present, with MLS Next Pro set to operate without a salary cap – though some wonder how much MLS sides and individual owners plan to invest in player salaries for the affiliate league. With Tommy saying it wasn’t about the money, it seems Farsi may be taking a paycut to insert himself in the MLS pipeline.
He’d become the first player to jump the bridge over to the newly-formed league, but there’s sure to be plenty of future crossover between the two divisions.
For Tommy, the CPL still did its job in terms of player development. Farci is the proof.
“That’s what this league is about,” he says, “it’s unearthing players like him and giving them a reputation and an opportuntity to play well for their club and draw eyes on them. And then if he goes on to be successful elsewhere, more players will look at us and say, ‘Well, I need to get into that league, because it develops players.”
Reflected on his time as a breakthrough surprise in the domestic professional league, Farsi has fond memories of his time with Cavalry FC. “I learned a lot, and I am really proud of my work,” said the full-back, “”I want to thank all the staff, because they signed me and took a chance on me. And I’m able to move on to another challenge because of them.”
While the Crew 2 represents the next rung on his ladder – putting him in a more direct pipeline for his MLS aspirations in a move some will worry is otherwise too lateral – the Montreal-born footballer still hopes to play abroad one day.
“My object is go to Europe,” he concluded, “I can say Barcelona, because I’ve followed Barcelona. I can say Manchester city, because I love Manchester City. I can say PSG…big teams like that.”
One rung at a time.