Hipster Footballer Of The Week: New England Revolution's Andrew Farrell
Here at Hipster Footballer of the Week, we like to bring you something a little fresh and different. While there’s no doubt that Europe is where a lot of talent ends up, HFW willingly scours the globe for your good selves, happy to pack a Wallpaper city guide in a hand-made Swedish rucksack and unearth little nuggets of obscure footballer gold for you to pass off as your own.
This week we travel across the pond to the MLS, which has, of late, actually started to become a little bit cool. Forget David Beckham and Alexei Lalas: the MLS’ new found financial muscle and burgeoning reach will see new franchises in New York and Miami (ok, maybe don’t forget Becks after all), and has also managed to attract, for the first time, players of proven calibre still at the top of their game, such as Michael Bradley and the homecoming king Clint Dempsey. Plus, the MLS is still pretty opaque to most European fans, with its complex draft and salary-cap rules, so you can carve out an area of discrete knowledge for yourself to impress the neophytes.
There’s no doubt that New York’s new franchise, run in partnership with Manchester City and the Yankees, is where the hipster dollar will be heading, but this week we preview a young player making waves further up the coast: New England Revolution’s Andrew Farrell.
The Revolution, as they are lazily called, are based in the Gillette Stadium alongside the New England Patriots, the area's role in the anti-British uprising of 1775-1783 in no way playing a nominative deterministic role in said appellations. While one of the inaugural members of the MLS, the Revolution have not exactly overthrown the established order, and their playoff place in 2013 was the first achieved since 2008. New coach Jay Heaps has stirred things up though, against a backdrop of owner disinterest and low investment, and things look to be getting better for the Massachusetts-based team. They play a direct style, looking for quick, long passes forward, and use a flexible 4-1-4-1 formation to squeeze the pitch and control space.
Twenty-two year old Farrell, not to be confused with Rugby League and Union’s gnarled player-turned-coach of the same name, is a rugged defender blessed with surprisingly quick feet and great control. He bombs forwards from right-back and, having started his college career as a defensive midfielder or centre-back, takes qualities from both those positions, giving him versatility to go with pace and strength.
An excellent dribbler, he is more than capable of chucking out a mean Cruyff turn, and possesses a range of passing which allows him to contribute to the Revolution’s dynamic style of play whether he is hurtling up the pitch or not. Thoroughly affable, at least if his promotional material is anything to go by, Farrell was an All-American NSCAA Defensive Player of the Year in 2012, and one of the Generation Adidas contract players in the 2013 MLS Superdraft, where he was the overall number one pick. If you want to be an MLS hipster, you’ll need to know what all of that means. Farrell has all the attributes to make it in a top European league and when he does, remember, you heard it here first.
Playing for hipster team? While MLS is on the rise, the Revs are hardly hipster material. Their proximity to gritty Boston gives them a certain credibility though: 5
Mentioned as young talent by World Soccer? No, but MLS players never are: 0
Linked with Arsenal for no particular reason? No, which is actually something of a surprise. He’d be very good for them. He is an Arsenal fan though: 4
From same nation as club? Yes, came through the college ranks and hails from Kentucky: 10
Positive reference from the Guardian? Yes, in their preview of the MLS draft he was described in glowing terms: “strong young centre back”. Wow: 6
Level of obscurity: He plays in the MLS, FFS: 9
Has Twitter decided to discover him? Not really, though there are some articles and stuff. He’s more of an Instagram chap though. Even his bulldog Rufus has an account: 7
Hipster hobby? Andrew is a decent pianist, despite not being able to read music, and has a crush on Jennifer Lawrence. Don’t we all?: 8
Overall: 49/80 – still much to be done to qualify as full hipster, but his lovely personality (no jokes, he seems like a top chap), excellent skills for a defender, and natural physical attributes should see him break into the US national team soon and a move across the pond should follow in due course.
Watch Farrell’s New England Revolution stage a coup all over Toronto FC’s face on BT Sport 1 at 18:00 on Saturday 3rd May. Or as he would say, 5/3/2014.