FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The phrase most often used to describe Andrew Farrell throughout preseason was “MLS ready.” Selected first overall in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft by the New England Revolution, the buzz surrounding Farrell was that he was more than capable of stepping into a starting lineup from day one.
That’s precisely what Farrell did last weekend, playing the full 90 minutes at right back in the Revolution’s season-opening 1-0 victory over the Chicago Fire. Not only that, but the 20-year-old lived up to his billing, impressing head coach Jay Heaps with a mix of composure, skill and tenacity.
“He certainly looked comfortable and I think that’s one of the most important things,” said Heaps. “What I really liked was his pressure in the game. He won a lot of balls and played some very good balls forward.”
Farrell described his professional debut as “fun” and pointed to the clean sheet as evidence that he and the rest of the Revolution’s backline did their jobs on the night. But Farrell also knows he’s not yet the finished product, noting the occasional rookie mistake against the Fire, particularly a tendency to over-dribble out of the back.
Weaving his way through the opposition was a regular occurrence for Farrell during his time as a standout at the University of Louisville and he showed glimpses of that ability against the Fire. But professional sides adjust quickly and in a couple of instances Farrell got himself into a bit of trouble with turnovers in the defensive third.
“There were a couple mishaps here and there and we looked at the video today,” Farrell said following Tuesday morning’s training session. “I’ve got to clean up my game a little bit, not as much dribbling. But that happens. It was my first game, I was a little nervous and I just kind of went back to what I used to do in college. I’m learning.”
“He’s just getting used to what he can and can’t get away with,” said Heaps. “I think you’ve got to make sure you know who you’re playing against. You can’t get picked and he has to know where his outlet balls are. But I thought overall it was an excellent performance from a rookie.”
The thought of Farrell continually improving is a scary notion for the opposition, but the young defender is confident he can reach another level simply by avoiding the trap of overcomplicating the game.
“I think if I simplify the game it’s going to make it easier on me and on my teammates, as well,” he said. “Just simplify my game and work every day, work as hard as we can.”