New England Soccer Today

Learning on the Job

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – At the start of every season, Revolution defender Andrew Farrell sets out to become a better version of the player he was the previous year. And that doesn’t change even if his role does.

After manning the right back’s spot for the majority of his first two seasons in MLS, the former first overall pick made the switch to full-time center back prior to the start of the 2015 campaign. His expectations?

“This year was a big one for me in transitioning from right back to center back,” Farrell said. “It kind of went the same way (for me) as the season went for us: I had ups and downs this year, and you try to not do that as a player. You want to be consistent.”

To be fair, consistency was a tall order for a number of footballers in Foxborough, and the team’s struggles reflected that. But that didn’t stop Farrell, who spent time at center back in college, from trying.

After an abysmal start to the season in which the Revolution conceded five goals in their first two, Farrell finally found a good patch of form once spring rolled around. In the midst of a nine-game unbeaten run, Farrell’s performances sharpened enough earn him a nomination for MLS Player of the Month for April.

“I felt really confident,” Farrell said. “I like the position a lot, and I liked it college. Having the backing of the coaching staff and having them put faith in me, and keeping me in there (was good).”

While Farrell rebounded well from those first two games, it wasn’t long before he encountered a few more struggles.

“It’s not in one year that you will make massive improvement, but you make step-by-step, day-by-day improvement,” fellow Revolution center back Jose Goncalves said. “It’s a difficult transition because you must make different movements.”

During a particularly trying pair of early-summer games, Farrell conceded a penalty and was red carded vs. Vancouver, then registered a rather uninspiring performance against New York. In that game, he was part of a defensive united that allowed three goals in the first 12 minutes of the match.

“It’s one of those (things) where it’s always tough to learn when you’re losing,” Farrell said. “But we also won a lot while I was back there, too, so it’s all a learning process.”

Indeed, immediately after that forgettable Red Bulls loss, the Revolution reeled off a seven-game unbeaten run that included five straight wins.

If there is one thing Farrell – who called his 2015 campaign “an alright season” – isn’t happy about, it’s the way he and his teammates bowed out of the postseason in one fell swoop following last week’s knockout loss at DC.

Nevertheless, he believes that, with a full year of plying the center back trade under his belt, the best is yet to come as he continues to get more comfortable.

“I think I had some really good performances, and some ones I’d love to forget,” Farrell said. “So it’s still a work in progress. It was a good first year at center back, but I think I’m still learning the position still, and a lot of things I can improve on that can help this team get to be where it needs to be.”

In the meantime, Farrell has no regrets about the way he handled the challenges, and is optimistic about what the future holds for both him and his teammates in 2016.

“I really enjoyed it,” Farrell said. “I love the position, I love to play. Hopefully next year, we can go all the way, and I can keep growing as a player.”

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