The man who is everything is anxious.
It’s a sunny Wednesday in July, and Andrew Farrell looks down to his cellphone inside the New England Revolution office at Gillette Stadium. He sees a message from Scott Caldwell.
“Scottie’s so mad,” Farrell says, knowing that Scottie is not really all that mad. He thumbs Scottie’s number into his phone.
“Hey Scottie, what’s up man? Sorry, dude. Yeah, I’m done. I’m about to head out.”
When you are the man who is everything, you have to be places.
To begin, we ponder the identity of the man who is everything.
He is the only No. 1 pick in Revolution history. He runs an Instagram account for his 18-month-old English bulldog, Rufus. He is from Kentucky. He is from Peru. He is a defender. He is a midfielder. He won’t shave his beard until he scores. He is a panther on the field, a puppy off it. He describes his old, pre-college self as “anti-social.” Now, his friends don’t know how to get him to stop talking.
“Always doing something really loud,” says Caldwell, a friend and a teammate.
“Always active,” friend and roommate Donnie Smith says.
The question to Farrell, who is 22: “Are you still the shy high school kid?”
The answer: “I mean, I’m single, if that’s what you’re asking.”
He laughs, which he does often.
He continues: “Not really. I’m pretty outgoing now. I’m shy at first but like — I feel like that’s like my profile: I’m shy at first but once you get to know me . . .”
He laughs again.
Who is Andrew Farrell?
Falling in love in Peru
Farrell is mad. He’s 5 years old, living in Louisville, Ky., and his parents, both missionaries who adopted him some years earlier, tell the family they’re moving. Off to Peru. Hunter and Ruth Farrell work for the Presbyterian Church, and they got jobs in South America: Hunter, the dad, as a pastor, and Ruth, the mom, as a fair trade advocate.
But Andrew is mad . . .
“One of my worst memories of all time: We had like a yard sale when we were leaving to go to Peru. I had like this castle, sick castle, and, like, soldiers and stuff,” he says, twirling a black hat embroidered with the “Dubble Bubble” logo and flashing a gap-toothed smile over a dark patchy beard.
“And my parents sold it. And, like, I was like I never forgave them for that.”
Until they landed in Peru. Andrew loved it. He loved the food, the untroubled attitude dancing through the air, the vitality of Peruvians.
And soccer. Andrew first played it when he was 2 or 3 — Ruth was his first coach — but in Peru, where soccer is breakfast, lunch, dinner, and church on Sundays, he was engulfed by it, its geometric beauty, its openness to all, its pick-up-and-play simplicity.
There he was during recess at Colegio Trener, the public school he attended until he was 10 and where he learned Spanish, combining with classmates. There he was in the park, or in the street, ball attached to his foot in small-sided games. Anywhere or any time they weren’t bound by some societal requirement — school, dinner, sleep — they were playing.
They’d use rocks for goals, chalk to draw boundaries.
They’d remember which streets were busiest when and adjust accordingly. Otherwise . . . “Cars would be going by, and we’d have to like step off,” Farrell says. “And we would play again.”
He would play when the Farrells — Andrew and his parents, plus older sister Ndaya and brother Billy — moved from their apartment in Lima, the capital, to a house in a different part of the city. Andrew began studies at Colegio Franklin D. Roosevelt, a wealthy private school with a strong American tinge. He was classmates with the prime minister’s children.
Soccer, the great equalizer, was unchanged, and every day Andrew would embark on a 30-minute, two-bus trek to practice in Lince, a poorer section in the capital.
Andrew Farrell fell in love in Peru. Her name was soccer.
Then they were gone again. Mom and Pop got jobs back in Louisville and Billy and Ndaya were off to college. That left high school sophomore Andrew the most affected.
Assimilating back to American culture, he says, was more difficult than embracing Peruvian culture.
“Oh . . . my gosh. It was crazy. Well, like, just like everybody was eating crappy food,” he says.
Public high school in the United States, turns out, is different than private high school in Peru. Farrell stuck to what he knew — soccer — and what he missed: video games.
“I was, like, super anti-social,” he says. “I probably didn’t hang out with a girl until, like, college.”
And soccer, of course, was more an afterthought in the American high school sports cycle of football, basketball, and baseball. It was less technical, more physical, and Farrell, always near the top of the athleticism totem pole in Peru, discovered these American boys could run and jump and muscle with him. So he relied on the beautiful game even more, and he still does.
“His foot skills are so superior to a lot of the American players here,” says Smith, a midfielder for the Revolution. “Even in practice, he’ll just pull out a move, and you’ll be like, ‘Where did that even come from?’ ”
Ken Lolla knew where it came from. The Louisville coach noticed the Peruvian influence, and he recruited Farrell. Good thing, too: In 2010, the Cardinals were national runners-up, buoyed by Farrell’s hybrid of power and grace at defensive midfield and right back.
This was, of course, after the flummoxing mono incident. Farrell missed six or seven games, Lolla remembers, because he was diagnosed with the energy-sapping sickness early in the season.
“I didn’t have mono. Well, I mean, I did. I had mono but I didn’t have mono,” Farrell says. “I felt fine, I wasn’t tired, but they said my spleen was enlarged. And I was like, ‘I feel fine.’ I wasn’t tired or anything. And I was so salty.”
Lolla’s phone wouldn’t stop ringing. Professional coaches from across the land wanted to know about this kid who seemingly played all positions (at least three with Louisville), who was raised in Peru but shaped in America (he still is perplexed when teammates don’t do their own laundry), who was polite and funny and didn’t drink before his 21st birthday (he had a Blue Moon, and his favorite part was the orange that accompanied it) — if all this hype was rooted in truth.
Lolla told them it was, that Farrell, an All-American and the Big East defensive player of the year as a junior, 5 feet 11 inches and 165 pounds, was prepared for Major League Soccer. Farrell consulted Lolla and his parents and made the decision: He was going pro.
He signed with Generation Adidas, and in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, the Revolution traded their No. 4 pick for Toronto’s No. 1 and selected Farrell first overall.
Here was the perfect blend of technical skill and athletic might, of command on the field and charm off it, of Peruvian flair and American fortitude. The man who is everything.
You can see it now, too. During a July game against the Colorado Rapids, Farrell muscles Rapids striker Edson Buddle out of bounds near the Revolution goal, claps three times, and slaps hands with keeper Bobby Shuttleworth — that is the US. Four days earlier against the Columbus Crew, Farrell rolls the ball leftward with the top of his cleats and slots it through the legs of a Crew midfielder — that is Peru.
In his rookie season, Farrell started 32 games, all at right back, and helped mold New England’s back four into third-best in the league.
This year he’s started nine times at center back and 12 at right back for the Revolution (8-12-2).
“There’s, like, positives and negatives to each [position],” Farrell says.
Or not: “There’s not really negatives. There’s differences.”
To end, we consider the future of the man who is everything.
The now — Farrell will drive back to the Dedham apartment he shares with Smith to play ping-pong or watch “The Office” or take a selfie with Rufus — will soon be gone, because Farrell is forever humming ahead, a 22-year-old blend of many things but in pursuit of one.
Yes, Farrell wants to play on the US national team, and his name has been tossed around in early roster projections for the 2018 World Cup.
And it’s warranted, Lolla says: Farrell’s versatility and fusion of futbol backgrounds could merit him a spot on Jurgen Klinsmann’s team in the world’s biggest tournament.
“I gotta be there,” Farrell says, “at least one time.”
It would make the man who is everything something more.