FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — With a Defender-of-the-Year-sized gap in the New England Revolution’s backline for the time being, the team turned to one of its most promising players against the Philadelphia Union last Saturday: second-year defender Andrew Farrell.
And Farrell showed signs that he is more than capable of manning the position vacated by José Gonçalves, who was left off the 18-man squad, building on the 32 starts he made at right back last season.
“We have a lot of guys who can fill that role,” said Farrell of his first action of the season after missing the opener with a leg injury. “I’m available to play center back or any other position, if coach wants me to play that.”
That type of versatility will eventually pay dividends for a unit that has been slow out of the gate due to preseason injuries and roster shifts.
Despite the season’s rough start, which continued in Saturday’s 1-0 loss to the Union, New England’s second in as many games, the 21-year-old is confident that it’s only a matter of time before the defense returns to its 2013 form, when it conceded 38 goals – tied for third in MLS.
“We’ve got a lot of depth this year, so we’re going to have some guys pushing each other for spots,” said Farrell, who led the Revolution with 16 clearances Saturday. “I think as the season goes along, we’ll get a nice jelling, but I think it’s coming together. It was definitely an improvement from the first game, and we’re looking forward to improve on the last one.”
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With the Union in control for nearly 60 percent of play on Saturday, Farrell was heavily engaged, most noticeably on the game’s lone goal when he took an aggressive chance, and was forced to the ground, on a pass to Philadelphia’s Leo Fernandes that set up a Sébastien Le Toux goal.
Farrell was quick to accept blame following the game and was just as quick to move on from it heading into Tuesday’s training session, looking for a reversal of fortune in Saturday’s home opener against the Vancouver Whitecaps (2 pm ET; MLS Live).
“The leg is feeling good,” said Farrell. “I was a little tight at the end of the game. I’m feeling good but disappointed that we lost. Looking forward to the home opener and getting the first three points of the season.”