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MLS Combine: Farrell strengthens his case for No. 1 pick

LAUDERHILL, Fla. — For the player projected by some to be the No. 1 overall SuperDraft pick, it was the only blemish on an otherwise dominant performance.

Six minutes into the second half, with his AdiZero team cruising 3-0 on the first day of the MLS Player Combine, Louisville central defender Andrew Farrell danced on the ball until he was ultimately dispossessed by an opposing forward. The error resulted in a shot which forced AdiZero goalkeeper James Belshaw from Duke into one of the saves of the Friday afternoon doubleheader.

"James saved my butt there," Farrell said. "I told him I was trying to give him some reps in goal. That's always something I tend to do. I try to do too much sometimes and I have to simplify the game. I've played different roles and I have to mature in that position. That will come with playing time and learning from other guys."

It was a humble admission from a player who backed up all the hype surrounding him in the lead-up to the Combine with a dominating physical performance in which he canceled out the opponents' forwards.

READ: Where does Farrell go in our experts' pre-Combine Mock Draft?

And those who still question Farrell's technique also got their answer when he slotted a crisp, 22nd-minute through ball to forward Ashton Bennett, who put his team up 2-0 en route to a 4-0 victory.

Not bad for a player who has only been playing at center back for two college seasons. Farrell started out at defensive midfielder and right back before moving full-time into the heart of the defense for his junior and senior years at Louisville.

"I think I came in my freshman year more of an athlete. I really didn’t have a spot," Farrell said. "Just by seeing me in practice, [Louisville coach Ken Lolla] thought I could play different roles, so I did that and I guess he moved me to center back because he thought that was the best option for me. And getting offered a Generation adidas contract as a center back speaks volumes. That was my best spot."

Will it be his spot in MLS? Some still believe he could be moved back to defensive midfield or right back after he is drafted on Jan. 17. In the meantime, the 20-year-old will be busy soaking in all the chatter in anticipation of the biggest day of his budding soccer career.

"You hear about it and that's exciting, obviously," he said about the talk of him becoming the No. 1 pick. "But at the end of the day, it's only what you do on the field that speaks. A lot of our guys should be top guys [too], and their names should be going around because we played well and got a good win."