New England Soccer Today

Coming into His Own

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Not long ago, Andrew Farrell found himself in an unenviable position: at the heart of defense that conceded five goals in its first two games.

Although the converted center back was just getting acclimated to the role of full-time center back, the expectations he set for himself were high. Not surprisingly, the mistakes and mental lapses took its toll.

“The first two weeks were pretty tough,” Farrell said. “My confidence was really low. But it speaks to the confidence the coaches have in me and my teammates in sticking with me. They kept pushing me and it wasn’t easy for me, but they stuck with me.”

And it’s good thing they did. Since those early season stumbles, Farrell’s form has gradually improved, which has helped the Revolution keep their opponents off the scoresheet from the run of play for the past six matches.

All the more remarkable about Farrell’s improvement: the fact that he’s done it with three different center back partners. While cohesion is an important aspect of a successful defensive pairing, Revolution coach Jay Heaps believes that Farrell has benefited from the the situation.

“It’s a strength, and it’s also a part of his overall development,” Heaps said. “It’s not great week-to-week to do it, but in the end, it’s going to be great for his development at center back because he’s playing with different players.”

By learning alongside three very different kinds of players – Jose Goncalves, Darrius Barnes and Jermaine Jones – Farrell has had to make adjustments in training and during the course of game action. So far, so good.

“He’s has adapted to each one, and he’s learning what’s best for him in those scenarios,” Heaps said. “Not only that, but he’s also playing on the left and right. So he’s not only getting the tactical sense, but he’s also getting the technical side of being in a different position and with a different feet.”

Farrell admits that it’s not easy playing alongside different partners, but does see the benefits that Heaps points out.

“I’ve learned something different from each guy,” Farrell said. “With Jose back there, coach wants me to talk a lot more, (while) Jermaine already does that. I’m learning from him things to say and things to call out, and to be more vocal, and that’s something that’s going to help out a lot.”

He doesn’t mind that Jones isn’t a center back by trade, either.

“It’s fun,” Farrell said. “He takes a lot of the responsibility of taking the ball forward, so I slide in and cover a little bit more from the left side, because his distribution is so key for us. It’s just fun to play with such a great player back there.”

All the while, Farrell’s quickly come into his own as he gets more comfortable at center back. On Thursday, he was named a finalist for MLS Player of the Month. Not bad a for a guy who hardly looked the part at the start of the season.

“I think I’ve learned a lot from those first two weeks,” Farrell said. “I think it was just a process. I knew it wasn’t going to happen overnight. But each day, and each game got better. Hopefully it gets to the point where we’re not even talking about it.”

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