BOSTON — Andrew Farrell had just been informed he had at last realized a lifelong dream of being named to the 2016 AT&T MLS All-Star team. But New England’s stalwart defender was also told the roster hadn’t been formally released, so he couldn’t share the news with anyone.
He waited 10 minutes — which felt about as grueling as the full 90 he’s accustomed to playing for the Revolution — before calling his parents.
“It was really hard. My roommate [Scott Caldwell] is one of my best friends, we’ve been together for four years, but I couldn’t really tell him,” Farrell said. “Some of the equipment guys and staff were talking about it; I was like, 'I’m pretty sure no one else is supposed to know.'”
The MLS All-Stars will face perennial English Premier League contenders Arsenal on Thursday in San Jose (7:30 pm ET, ESPN, UniMás, TSN, RDS).
“It’s been a dream of mine. To be able to play with these guys, and train with these guys around the league who are really, really good, and then play against a top team like Arsenal, it’s really exciting,” Farrell said, adding he wasn't expecting the nod. “I kinda looked back like, 'Are you sure he’s talking to me?'
"I’m excited to be called upon, and I hope to represent the league well, and also our team.”
Farrell’s MLS All-Star selection coincided with New England head coach Jay Heaps’ decision to move him from right back to central defense, where the Revs can capitalize even more on his versatile skills. Heaps was thrilled to announce the news of Farrell's selection.
“I think he has put in an excellent first half of the season,'' Heaps said. "We came into the season pushing him more into a center back (role) to see what the relationship was, knowing what he can do at right back. He can go forward, which you see, and I love him going forward, but I also love what he does on the backside.... When the game’s in front of him on service, he’s able to read it, step up where he needs to, or mark his man from that right back position, which really helps our center backs.”
The selection is the fulfillment of the promise the Revs saw in the former Louisville All-American when they made him the club’s first overall pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft. He has been New England’s rock in the back, starting and playing the full 90 in every match except one this year (in which he subbed on and played the final 11 minutes).
“This is my fourth season and I’ve wanted to take my game to the next level. I’ve worked really hard for the past three-and-a-half years and this is a dream come true,” Farrell said. “I’ve always wanted to play against Arsenal — I’ve always wanted to play for Arsenal — but to be on the other side of the pitch is also exciting.”