So after a frantic week, the playoffs are nearly done. From 10 hopeful teams we’re suddenly down to four, and among the teams out of the running, there are a whole heap of autopsies already under way — especially in New York, L.A., and Seattle.
After a frenetic burst of games seemingly every other night, we’re halfway through the conference finals, but now face a two-week wait before the second legs.
The four weary teams remaining are now trundling slowly across the plateau toward the final on December 9, and this seems as good a time as any to catch our breath and ask, “What just happened?” In particular, I want to look at the teams that just left us, because we never really had a chance to say good-bye.
“Welcome to the family. We’re happy to have you. Stay humble, but stay hungry.”
Making his way off the stage he’s just shared with MLS Commissioner Don Garber, Andrew Farrell nods earnestly at the short greeting by his new head coach, Jay Heaps, and looks down at the New England Revolution scarf now draped round his neck. At the other side of the hall, at the ESPN broadcast desk, analysts Alexi Lalas and Taylor Twellman are now praising the no. 1 pick in the 2013 SuperDraft — Lalas is noting the young man’s confidence playing the ball out of defense, while Twellman, a former no. 2 overall draft pick for the Revs, and club hero, is praising second-year coach Heaps, for exciting a beleaguered fan base by trading to secure the top player on the board.
Farrell is just relieved that the process is over. With Toronto initially holding the first pick and Farrell’s star rising at the Combine, it had been widely expected he would be headed to Canada, until New England made the draft-day move for its first-ever top pick — a bold gesture of faith in a young player who elicits stock phrases such as “significant upside” but who is, like all his peers, untested at the professional level. “I tried to stay away from all the mock drafts and blogs and all that," says Farrell. "Until they call your name, you’re never certain. I heard one or two things from my agent that there’s been a a trade, and I’d spoken to New England and liked them. A lot of the teams I’d spoken to said nice things, but were, like, ‘We’re too low of a pick to get you’, but they (New England) didn’t really hint at anything like a trade from fourth to first.”