San Antonio’s Jordan Farr & the Magic of the Big MomentJordan Farr took a weird road to becoming the best goalkeeper in the USL Championship – and we saw a first glimpse of his current status as a big-game hero in last year’s U.S. Open Cup.
“It was the most unique and awesome experience of my career,” said goalkeeper Jordan Farr last year after a dramatic win over MLS’ Austin FC in the Third Round of the 2022 U.S. Open Cup. “You don’t have a lot of control in those moments; you just have to trust yourself.”
Since that day, when he stood on his head as they say, he’s amassed more awesome and unique moments to rival that game-defining double-save. Farr went on to win the 2022 USL Championship crown with San Antonio FC and was named – without much argument – the league’s top goalkeeper.
He’s developed a reputation for pulling off saves he has no business making. And he’s started the current 2023 campaign the same way he finished last year – as reigning Goalkeeper of the Month for March and three-times a Save of the Week winner (so far).
On the Ground, Helpless – Hero
“I made the first save and then that guy’s like standing on top of me – our legs are intertwined,” Farr said of the close-range effort from Felipe Martins that capped his performance against Austin FC in the Open Cup last year. “There’s no way I can get up quickly. I remember thinking I’m just going to have to sit here on the ground with my arms out. If it hits me in the face, it hits me in the face."
Somehow, beyond reason or logic, Rodney Redes’ follow-up effort from point-blank range ended up in Farr’s arms. He clenched the ball, embracing it like something precious, amid a tidal wave of attaboys from grateful defenders. Seconds later, the three whistle blasts went and the game was over.
It sparked more pandemonium among the home fans, despair for the large contingent of traveling Austin fans, and a kind of delirium for Farr, the night’s outstanding performer.“As a goalkeeper, a moment like that is pretty unique,” said the 28-year-old, tall and lean and a natural shot-stopper with preternatural reflexes. “You never get to be the guy who scores the winning goal and goes and slides on his knees by the corner flag. So this was really a first for me. The roar, the sound, everything – it all just felt different.”
The Birth of Mr. Emergency
Farr’s arrival in San Antonio was nothing if not unique. And the goalkeeper, always smiling and a big personality off the field, had no choice but to hit the ground running.
When Matt Cardone, San Antonio’s starting goalkeeper and the beloved face of the club, went down with injury on the cusp of the 2021 playoffs, Farr was 1200 miles away in Indianapolis, “eating a slice of pizza and having a beer” at Indy Eleven’s end-of-season awards banquet. He’d made most of his 34 starts (over four seasons at the club) that year, but the team missed the play-offs despite his best efforts.
He was an overlooked superstar in search of a home – and regular playing time.
“My CEO [of Indy Eleven] walked over and told me to put down the pizza – you got a game to play in four days,” Farr laughed, describing a rarely-used emergency goalkeeper loan that sparked a sudden (and then-temporary) move to Texas. “I didn’t even know the rule existed; everything went really fast.”
Farr had every excuse to struggle. He was being asked to slide into a new team with only hours of preparation and to fill in for a club legend (Cardone) whose quiet leadership and placid temperament were the polar opposite of Farr’s own gregarious and outgoing nature. No one of fair mind would have blamed Farr if he flubbed his lines.
Instead, he rose to the occasion. You get the sense that Farr is an improviser at heart – that he prefers the dip and sway of a curveball to the straight-down-the-middle stuff.
Filling a Legend’s Shoes
“We just had to keep it really simple,” Farr remembered with a smile, speaking of being quietly mentored by Cardone, who’s since retired from the game to attend law school. “My main thing was like can I remember everyone’s name? But the players, staff, everyone accepted me and a lot of pieces had to come together really fast.”Farr helped the team past Landon Donovan’s Loyal, the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros and into the conference final where San Antonio lost a slim decision via shootout to eventual champions Orange County SC. It was no surprise, given his performances in that high-octane stretch, that SAFC signed Farr on a permanent contract from the start of the 2022 season.
And from there, the rest is history. Farr and San Antonio fit together like hand in glove and both started amassing silverware like it was going out of style.
SAFC had a 2022 to remember after being knocked out of the Cup. And Farr had everything to do with the run to the league title that went through Oakland Roots, the Colorado Springs Switchbacks and, finally, league royalty and serial champions Louisville City.
Farr at Home in the Cup
The Open Cup, 110-years-old and chock full of quirks and idiosyncrasies, suits a guy like Farr. His back-flip after the final whistle against Austin last year was just the kind of showmanship that makes America’s oldest soccer tournament tick.
All that said, he was not directly involved in the team’s opener in the Second Round this year. With a Club de Lyon of NISA arriving at Toyota Field with only 12 dressed players, coach Alen Marcina decided it was time to blood his young horses and give the established stars a night off.
So Farr – not dressed – watched his young understudy Jude Bosshardt help pull off a tense 2-1 win in extra-time. But you can bet he’ll be back between the pipes for the Third Round contest on April 26th out on the road against Major League Soccer side Nashville SC.
“I love the Open Cup; it’s been good to me,” said Farr, who made his pro debut in the competition back in 2019 with Indy Eleven after an NAIA college career at Corban University in his hometown of Salem, Oregon. “Momentum is huge and you have to ride that wave of emotions. It needs grit and performance – there’s always a different kind of game, a different kind of energy, in front of you.
“When you’re from a division underneath, there’s so much pride that naturally goes into it,” the ‘keeper added during last year’s run. “You really want to show what you can do.”
“Emotion matters,” added Farr, an optimist and a proven man for the big moments who’s curious to see how far he can take it. “We’re a team that prides ourselves on mentally being able to really, really get up for games. I really do believe this team is capable of something great.”
Fontela is editor-in-chief of usopencup.com. Follow him at @jonahfontela on Twitter.