BRADENTON, Fla. – After spending the first five years of his professional career with the New England Revolution, Andrew Farrell felt like he was ready for a new challenge.
Farrell ultimately found that challenge … with the New England Revolution.
His contract set to expire at the end of 2017, Farrell signed a new deal with New England this past December, keeping him with the only pro club he’s ever known. His relationships with his teammates and Revolution supporters played a significant role in keeping him around, but he was also intrigued by new head coach Brad Friedel’s vision, and wanted to be part of the new-look Revs.
“I needed a new challenge and a new beginning, but at the same time, with the same team,” Farrell said. “With a new coaching staff coming in, I knew it was going to be a tough challenge; tough to adapt to a new coaching style.
“My parents always told me to step up to challenges; it’ll make you a better person and a better player.”
The biggest challenge for Farrell will be adjusting to the system that Friedel wants to play; an aggressive, high-pressure style that relies upon the outside backs to cover loads of ground while being heavily involved in the attack. In short, Farrell’s right back position will require top-level fitness.
Those demands have been no surprise to Farrell, who worked tirelessly in the offseason to make sure he came into camp lighter and fitter than ever before, at the behest of Friedel.
“It’s something we talked about in the offseason,” Farrell said. “He just said we’re going to come in fitter, come in sharper. That’s something that they emphasized.
“I came in a lot lighter than I have been, to get up and down the field.”
Farrell has plenty of competition for minutes in 2018 – the Revs used a pair of top-10 SuperDraft picks on right backs Brandon Bye and Mark Segbers – but he’s fully embraced the fight for a starting role, and most importantly, he’s made a strong impression on his new head coach early in preseason camp.
“Andrew’s attitude and application to training have been second to none,” said Friedel. “I know we’re going to ask him to do things that he maybe hasn’t been asked to do in the past, which is normal when a new staff comes in with a different system, but you can never question his work ethic.”
Friedel, who said Farrell has been “absolutely super around the group,” has urged his sixth-year defender to bring that work ethic each day. The rest, he insists, will take care of itself.
“He said, keep an open mind about everything,” Farrell said of his offseason conversation with Friedel. “(He said) obviously a lot of things will be different for you, but keep an open mind and be excited for the new challenge.”