INDIANAPOLIS – One day after pulling a surprise trade that landed them at the front of the line for the MLS SuperDraft, the New England Revolution went the safe route with their prized pick.
The Revs selected Louisville center back Andrew Farrell with the top overall pick in the draft on Thursday, giving the club an athletic and proven defender that most experts expect to contribute in MLS right away this season.
New England swapped the No. 4 overall draft pick and an undisclosed amount of allocation money to Toronto FC on Wednesday evening to land the top pick, marking the first time in franchise history that the Revs picked first in the draft.
And they didn’t disappoint with their selection, opting to go with the 20-year-old Farrell, a Generation adidas signee who was the Big East Defensive Player of the Year during his junior year in 2012. A first-team NSCAA All-American and a MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist last year, Farrell started all 23 games for the Cardinals and played in the midfield before moving to the back line the final nine games of the season.
“We just felt that he was consensus No. 1 across [the board] from a lot of different feelings going into the draft," head coach Jay Heaps said. "In college a lot of people were labeling him as the No. 1 pick when we were No. 4, but we still went to watch and see. He carried that pressure well, and I think those are important things. Then he also backed it up with a solid combine. When you’re asked to perform at the level he’s had to perform in the spotlight, I think that also shows a little bit of character.”
Farrell won out in a two-headed race for the best defender in the draft, with the Revs passing on Furman defender and MLS Combine no-show Walker Zimmerman. The Paladins star was nursing an injury last week and did not get the opportunity to work out in front of Revs coaches in South Florida, allowing Farrell to seal his status as first-overall pick.
“You never know until they call your name. I’m grateful for that," Farrell said. "Obviously, there are a lot of top guys that are here. You just never know, so I’m excited for the opportunity to be in New England.”
Alhough born in Kentucky, Farrell moved with his parents to Peru and as a child and spent 10 years there before retuning to play the bulk of his high school soccer at Atherton High School in his native Louisville.
The Revolution, meanwhile, leaned heavily on center backs A.J. Soares, Stephen McCarthy and Darius Barnes to anchor their defense last season, which gave up 44 goals in 34 regular-season games.
Prior to Thursday’s selection, the highest draft pick in Revs history came in 2002, when the club took striker Taylor Twellman with the No. 2 pick overall. They took midfielder Kelyn Rowe with the No. 3 pick in the 2012 draft.