While far from certain, there are rumors that A.J. Soares might soon be heading to Europe. The New England Revolution claim that they’re still in negotiations with Soares, but they have also left their starting center back exposed in the Expansion Draft. If Soares’ spell with the Revolution is in fact up, it might be time to start transitioning Andrew Farrell to the middle.
In 2013, the Revolution traded up in the MLS SuperDraft to acquire Farrell. After being deployed as a center midfielder during his first two seasons at the University of Louisville, Farrell moved to the defense as a junior. Here, he helped Louisville post an impressive .62 goals against average.
With the Revolution, Farrell took ownership of the right back position from day one, starting 32 games during his rookie campaign. In his second professional season, Farrell showcased his versatility by starting 22 games at right back and 10 in central defense.
It has long been prophesized that Farrell’s future is in the middle. Pundits have commented on it as well as head coach Jay Heaps. Even the player himself admitted it during an interview with MLSSoccer.com’s Craig Forde.
"My future is probably at center back," Farrell told Forde. "But we have A.J. [Soares] and Jose [Goncalves] who have been great all season for us. Whatever coach wants me to do, I’ll play."
Heaps could soon be asking Farrell to move to the center if Soares does in fact leave. It wouldn’t be a bad decision considering Farrell’s physicality and speed. When playing center back this season, Farrell showed well overall and the mistakes that were made can easily be chalked up to inexperience more than anything else.
Opposition to the move will note that Farrell’s ability to get forward will be missed on the flank. However, the 22-year-old has produced one assist and no goals over the last two years. Farrell’s confident ball control could actually be more of an asset from the center back position.
Another angle to be considered is from which position is Farrell most likely to grab the attention of US national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann. In the wake of the 2014 World Cup, Klinsmann has noted that he will be looking for young players to make their case for a call up. Farrell at least has to be on watch considering his resume since joining MLS.
As a right back, Farrell would be challenging the likes of Fabian Johnson, Timmy Chandler and DeAndre Yedlin. Center back competition comes in the form of Geoff Cameron, John Brooks and Jermaine Jones. Both groups would be hard to breakthrough.
Farrell was originally put at the right back because the other spots were claimed. Now that there is a potential opening in the center, it might be time for Farrell to relocate to his natural position.