KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Andrew Farrell found himself playing an unfamiliar role for last Thursday night’s MLS is Back Tournament opener against the Montreal Impact: sideline cheerleader.
Farrell, who has started 219 of the New England Revolution’s 241 regular-season matches since he was the first overall SuperDraft pick in 2013, was unavailable for the Revs’ 1-0 win over the Impact because of a minor quad injury. But that didn’t stop him from making his presence felt, encouraging his teammates from the bench and providing a boost of energy on a hot and humid Orlando evening.
“It’s way different,” Farrell said of watching from the sidelines. “You see so many different things out there. I can see why coaches start yelling at us, but it’s hard in the game.
“It was fun to cheer on the guys and the guys who were on the bench. I think it’s important with no crowd, no fans – our fans would (normally) be cheering us on, but we know we’ve got to be the fans this time. Not like we aren’t always, be even more (in this tournament).”
Farrell had the chance to encourage three of his fellow center backs, as Antonio Delamea and Michael Mancienne started the match and rookie Henry Kessler came off the bench for the final 23 minutes to help keep the clean sheet.
It was the first start of 2020 for both Delamea and Mancienne after the pairing of Farrell and Kessler had started the first two games of the season back in March, and the recent addition of Collin Verfurth from Revs II (not currently in Orlando) gives head coach Bruce Arena plenty of options to anchor the backline.
“One thing we learned last year is that we need to have plenty of cover in the center back position, because we had a number of injuries,” said Arena. “You see in this tournament here in Orlando with the conditions, there’s going to be some squad rotation, for sure. I anticipate that all four of our center backs will play.”
Farrell’s first opportunity to play in Orlando could come on Friday night when the Revs will continue Group C play against D.C. United. Arena noted last week that he expected Farrell to be ready by the second game of the group stage, and Farrell confirmed his healthy status on Sunday morning.
“(I’m) feeling good,” Farrell said after completing a 90-minute session in the blazing Florida sun. “Obviously pretty pumped for the guys, how the team performed, got the three points (against Montreal).
“(I’m) just excited to be back and in the fold. Hopefully my name can be called, but I’m just ready and trying to get back into that fitness that I missed throughout the time I was injured.”