FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – It’s easy to forget that Andrew Farrell just completed his rookie season.
The 21-year-old defender was the New England Revolution’s first-choice right back from start to finish in 2013, never once stumbling under the weight of expectations typically heaped upon the No. 1 overall draft pick. He started 32 of the Revolution’s 34 regular-season matches – missing one apiece for red-card suspension and injury – and firmly planted himself in the conversation for MLS Rookie of the Year.
From a team perspective, Farrell was a key part of the Revolution’s vastly improved backline, which conceded just 38 goals to tie for the third-best defensive record in MLS. That helped the Revs secure the third seed in the Eastern Conference and a return to the postseason for the first time since 2009.
For Farrell, it was mission accomplished. At least in year one.
“It was, I guess you could say, a successful rookie season,” he said. “When I came in, I wanted to have an impact on the team and help the team make their first playoffs in a while. We did that.
“We didn’t go as far as we wanted to, but it was still a success in my eyes. I got a decent amount of playing time and I think I grew a lot and learned a lot throughout the season. I’m looking to improve in the offseason and come back better next year.”
Farrell identified specific areas in which he’ll work to improve before returning for preseason camp in January, most notably his delivery on crosses. A center back and defensive midfielder throughout the majority of his career at the University of Louisville, Farrell was unaccustomed to overlapping runs and the dynamic of playing out wide. Transitioning to a fullback position at the professional level required – and continues to require – an adjustment period.
There were lessons learned on the defensive end, as well. After getting into trouble trying to dribble out of the back on a few occasions in the season opener at Chicago, Farrell quickly altered his game to, as he put it, “simplify” his approach. It was rarely an issue as the season progressed and the young defender swiftly developed into one of the steadiest right backs in MLS.
As for that infamous “rookie wall” which typically obstructs youngsters playing the longest season of their lives, Farrell never hit it. He actually seemed to gain steam as the season progressed; a testament to both his athletic stamina and his professional approach away from the field.
“It’s a lot different,” Farrell said of going from a four-month college season to a 10-month grind in MLS. “Also going from college season, to the draft, to the [MLS season] is kind of like a full year of soccer. It kind of wears on your body a little bit. I think the rookies on our team, me and [Scott Caldwell], did a pretty good job at not hitting the wall.”
That’s not to say Farrell isn’t a bit tired, and he certainly deserves the break he’s currently taking after a grueling first professional season. But his rest will be brief, and Farrell’s already looking forward to getting back on the field for his sophomore campaign in 2014.
“Obviously I’m going to take a couple weeks off, but right back at it,” he said with a smile. “It’s the sport we love and I’m excited to keep going.”