SARASOTA, Fla. – Every team has an energy guy, a player whose role inside the locker room can be just as important as their role on the field. He’s the one often leading the banter, but also the guy hyping up his teammates when they need a lift or getting in someone’s ear when they need a push.
For the past 10 seasons, Andrew Farrell has been an energy guy for the New England Revolution.
“I think it’s really important,” Farrell said when asked about keeping the vibes right within a team setting. “Obviously I just do it because that’s my personality, but you can kind of tell, you can kind of catch a feeling – maybe we had a hard day at training and we have another hard day coming up, you get the juices going and crack some jokes, kind of yell at each other. It can kind of make some guys maybe tune in a little bit more or just get their bodies going.
“I don’t know what it is, but I can sometimes kind of sense a vibe like, ‘Hey, we’ve got to get going guys, let’s get going, let’s get the energy going.’”
Not everyone can be an energy guy, and not everyone should. Teams need balance, and Farrell believes the Revs have found that heading into the 2023 season.
“That’s the important thing about a team,” said Farrell. “We have guys who are more quiet. A guy like Carles [Gil], who’s not necessarily quiet, but he leads by example. He’s our leader, he’s our captain, he leads by example. He’s not really a ‘rah rah’ guy. But guys like [Matt] Polster will get stuck in and yell at guys.
“I can be banter, I can be serious. I think having that balance throughout the team is really important for us to grow together, and as the season progresses, we have some of the young guys even bring their personalities out, and I think that’s when we become a better team.”
Farrell was once one of those eager youngsters, bringing his outgoing personality to New England as the first overall pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft. Now he enters his 11th MLS season as the Revolution’s all-time leader in appearances (304), starts (301), and minutes played (26,792), having carved out a place in the club record books while claiming Revolution Defender of the Year five times along the way. He’s bounced between right back and center back throughout his career, but all the while he’s been one of the most influential figures on the Revolution roster.
A new crop of youngsters has joined the fray to lead the Revolution into the future, and Farrell is particularly bullish about 21-year-old midfielder and “one of our most talented players,” Dylan Borrero, who Farrell said is “highly motivated” after injury limited him to 12 appearances in 2022. Farrell also heaped praise on the Homegrown quartet of Esmir Bajraktarevic (17), Noel Buck (17), Jack Panayotou (18), and Damian Rivera (20), all of whom may have first team roles to play in 2023.
“Might be one of the most talented groups of teenagers I’ve ever played with,” Farrell said. “Even when I was that age, I was nowhere close to being that talented. It’s unbelievable. Now they’re getting the opportunity to be with the first team and playing significant minutes, and having a big impact.
“They’re really confident. It’s not cocky. They’re very confident in their skills and their abilities, and when Bruce [Arena] and the coaching staff and the guys give them an opportunity to play how they play, sky’s the limit.”
The future is bright for New England, but Farrell is firmly focused on 2023, and he freely acknowledges that the disappointment of 2022 is being used as motivation within Revolution camp. A record-breaking 2021 regular season ended in frustration with a first-round playoff exit, so the sting of missing the postseason entirely in 2022 hasn’t worn off even four months later.
Because the past two years have left the Revs feeling like they’ve left so much on the table, they’re desperate to make sure they grasp hold of the opportunity they have in the upcoming campaign.
“We reached the highest of highs [in 2021], and then obviously not being able to capitalize on that year [stung] even furthermore, then not being in it again after being in the mix and one of the better teams in the league … that fuels the fire a lot more,” Farrell said. “Sitting at home and watching other people play while you aren’t? Yeah, it adds to it, for sure.
“We have so much potential … We were good enough to be able to compete, and that fuels it and that makes this year even more important, and the beginning of the year even more important, for us to get to where we want to be.”