Rookies adapting well as Casa Grande trip concludes

Despite loss to Vancouver, first-year players gain valuable experience

CASA GRANDE, Ariz. – There are plenty of lessons to be learned from Tuesday night’s preseason loss to Vancouver Whitecaps FC, particularly from a chaotic opening 15 minutes in which the Revolution conceded three goals to Whitecaps forward Darren Mattocks. Those lessons will undoubtedly be incorporated into upcoming training sessions as the Revs now prepare to return to Foxborough following their 10-day stay in Casa Grande.

But preseason matches always provide some measure of positive takeaways, regardless of result. In this instance, New England can point to some promising performances from the club’s rookies as the youngsters continue to adapt at the professional level.

Most prominent amongst the corps of rookies is defender Andrew Farrell, selected first overall by the Revs in the recent MLS SuperDraft. Splitting his time between center back and right back, Farrell played 61 minutes on Tuesday night and showed glimpses of the talent which earned him such high praise coming out of the University of Louisville.

“I think you saw tonight he’s comfortable with the ball, he’s comfortable defending,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “Now it’s finding what we think is the best position with our backline – whether it’s right back, center back – and who he fits well with; if he’s going to pair with A.J. (Soares), or Stephen McCarthy, or Jose (Goncalves), or Darrius (Barnes). I think right now we have a pretty good competition in the center of the park defensively.”

Little more than one week into his first professional training camp, Farrell admits he’s still adjusting to his surroundings, both on and off the field. But he’s enjoying the process and taking the opportunity to learn every day.

“The speed of play’s a lot faster than college and you’ve just got to get used to that,” Farrell said. “All the veterans here are super helpful with that and in training every day I’m learning from all the other guys. I’ve enjoyed it so far … I’m having fun and just getting used to the pro life.”

Fellow rookie Scott Caldwell has a leg up in that he’s spent parts of the past four summers training with the Revolution after coming out of the club’s Academy program. That experience has shown early in preseason as Caldwell was particularly bright in a 45-minute showing against the Whitecaps.

“Scott Caldwell’s adapted really well,” said Heaps. “He’s a smart player and he understands what he can and can’t do physically. Because of that, he adapts well to the game and he understands where he needs to be.”

Heaps also praised the performance of unsigned rookie Donnie Smith – “He provided three or four good scoring opportunities from that left flank,” Heaps said – while goalkeeper Luis Soffner, defender Alex De John, midfielder Gabe Latigue and forward Chris Thomas also saw action from the crop of rookies.

“All in all, we’re having a pretty good competition for spots throughout the entire roster, top to bottom,” said Heaps.