[THIRTEEN FOR '13] Andrew Farrell proves you don't have to grow up in a soccer hotbed or play in a big-time youth
program to make it. Few heard of him coming out of high school in Louisville. The son of Presbyterian missionaries who spent most of his childhood in Peru, Farrell is projected as the No. 1 pick in
the 2013 MLS SuperDraft out of the University of Louisville if he signs a Generation adidas contract.
Soccer has been part of Farrell's life since he moved with his family to Peru at the age of 5. But before his sophomore year in high school, his family moved to Louisville, where his father, Hunter, got a job as director of the Presbyterian World Mission.
The adjustment was tough for Andrew, but he won't trade for a minute the experience. He developed his soccer skills in the streets of Lima, where goals were four rocks. And he learned valuable life skills.
“The best part about being from Peru is that I can relate to lots of different cultures,” Farrell told the louisvillecardinal.com. “You know, I can speak Spanish. And I know what it’s like to come to the United States from somewhere else.”
The big youth club in Louisville in Farrell's youth days was Javanon, a two-time national finalist in its age group, but he played at United 1996 FC, where the star was Sunny Jane, now at Maryland. It wasn't until he was his senior year at Atherton High School that he got a chance to play on the national stage, being selected to play in the 2009 USYS ODP Interregionals.
After high school, Farrell stayed close to home, enrolling at the University of Louisville, where he immediately stood out. It wasn't hard considering he wore shoulder-length dreadlocks and spoke mostly Spanish on the soccer field.
Louisville was loaded his freshman year, going unbeaten in 23 games before losing to Akron, 1-0, in the 2010 College Cup final. Mononucleosis sidelined early in the season, but it did not get him down, and he was inserted into the starting lineup for the first game of the NCAA Tournament and stayed there.
Halfway through his sophomore season, Farrell moved from midfield to the backline, where he has played ever since. He was named the 2012 Big East Defensive Player of the Year and became only the second Louisville player to earn NSCAA first-team All-American honors.
Toronto FC holds the No. 1 and No. 3 picks in the MLS SuperDraft, though it is believed to be shopping the No. 1 pick around to see what it could get for Farrell, considered by many the top prospect in a SuperDraft group diluted by the growing number of players whose rights are tied up by the MLS clubs for which they played academy ball.
Farrell, one of only a handful of underclassmen MLS has reportedly offered Generation adidas contracts to, follows in the footsteps of 2012 MLS Rookie of the Year Austin Berry (Chicago Fire) and runner-up Nick DeLeon (D.C. United), who both finished up at Louisville in 2011.
THIRTEEN FOR '13:
2. Ashton Bennett (Coastal Carolina)
1. Wil Trapp (University of Akron-signed with Columbus Crew)