The New England Revolution faced the Montreal Impact north of the border to kick off their 2020 season, packed with optimism and the weight of expectation that comes with five-time MLS Cup-winning head coach Bruce Arena and three exciting Designated Players.
As they got to their hotel, Revs stalwart Andrew Farrell noticed something in the lobby. It was a piano, an instrument he'd hardly touched since the Revs made him the No. 1 overall SuperDraft pick in 2013.
He couldn't resist.
“I hadn’t played the piano in like six or seven years, so I was like oh my gosh!" Farrell told MLSsoccer.com. "Some of the songs were coming up, I started remembering them.”
The Revs took a loss in Montreal then drew Chicago Fire FC at home the following weekend, their last match before MLS suspended the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Once that decision was made, Farrell knew he'd have a lot more free time coming his way than he was accustomed to. So he went online and ordered an electric keyboard, intent to exit isolation with a refined skill on the keys.
Farrell's siblings played the piano, but he didn't take lessons until high school when he took an elective. He was sure to make the distinction between a high school elective and proper piano lessons when explaining. That's the extent of his training on the instrument.
He can't read music, so the songs he learns and knows come from memory and playing it by ear.
“I wish I could sing, man," Farrell said. "I wish I was musically talented. I always wished I could be a singer but I couldn't, so I learned to play the piano.”
Farrell dedicates time every couple of days to practicing on his keyboard and even made a new Instagram account -- called Quarantine Farrell -- so not to clutter his other account. He said he's getting good feedback.
“Some teammates and their girlfriends or fiances are requesting songs," he said. "The hardest part is trying to learn these songs, like, damnit, it’s not that easy guys! But I’m just trying to please the fans.”
Farrell is a solid follow on social media, coming up with light-hearted and humorous posts such as a recent video poking fun at he and his teammates' pre-game entrances on gameday.
“There’s other sides to athletes, so I think it’s cool to show that side," Farrell said. "Especially now, it’s important to engage fans and keep them interested.”
Whenever the games do return, Farrell has high hopes for the Revs.
The defender, who has started no fewer than 29 matches in any of his seven seasons with the team, can't wait to see what the club can do. With reigning MLS Newcomer of the Year Carles Gil alongside fellow DP attackers Gustavo Bou and Adam Buksa leading the attack, this team may be better than the 2014 side that made it to MLS Cup.
“Yeah, this is the most talented team we’ve ever had," Farrell said. "I’d say so. I mean, our 2014 team was really talented but I think our expectations are really high. We have all three DP spots filled and those guys are top notch, then we have veterans and young talent.”
It's not just the opulent attack that should get the praise, as Farrell has big hopes for the defensive core and rookie center back Henry Kessler.
“Henry Kessler is going to be a national team center back," Farrell said. "You can quote that, because I told him I need his jersey when he gets his first call-up."