Ken Lolla’s job gets easier
By Andrew Melnykovych
Andrew Farrell’s selection as the No. 1 pick in the Major League Soccer draft Wednesday cemented the University of Louisville’s status as a new go-to program for players seeking a route through college to professional soccer.
Although the Cards’ All-American defender had been widely touted as the top pick in this year’s class, Farrell’s perceived value as a prospect was accentuated by the fact that the New England Revolution traded up to get him.
Farrell is leaving school a year early, having been signed as a Generation Adidas prospect by MLS. The fact that he is only 20, yet has three years of experience at the top level of the college game (plus playing three different defensive positions), made him especially attractive. Defensive players tend to have longer careers, his age making him a great investment.
While Farrell got the top pick on his own merits, his selection also speaks volumes about the status of Coach Ken Lolla’s program. UofL has now attained a status formerly held by Virginia under Bruce Arena and Indiana under Jerry Yeagley -– a premier college destination for players who want to play professionally.
Two former Cards – Austin Berry and Nick DeLeon – finished 1-2 for MLS Rookie of the Year last year. They were among four UofL players drafted last year. With three more this year – Paolo DelPiccolo and Greg Cochrane went in the second round – that gives Louisville nine picks in the last three drafts.
MLS teams definitely see attractive qualities in players coming out of Lolla’s program, including a diverse skill set, with many having played in multiple positions while competing in a high-paced game that pressures the ball the length of the field.