skip navigation

How Jordan Farr became the Tampa Bay Rowdies’ new No. 1

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 03/13/24, 9:10PM EDT


Offseason move closed book on time in San Antonio, gave Rowdies a title-winning shot-stopper for new campaign

New Tampa Bay Rowdies goalkeeper Jordan Farr is eager to deliver for his new side as Tampa Bay enters the campaign with its sights on claiming the USL Championship title. | Photo courtesy Tampa Bay Rowdies

Despite what had come to pass late in the 2023 USL Championship season, as the new year arrived, Jordan Farr’s expectation was to be part of San Antonio FC’s roster for the upcoming campaign.

Sure, there had been some discussions between himself and the club about potentially parting ways early this offseason, but after Farr and his wife talked things through, they agreed it was going to be best for them to stay, potentially take a back-up role, and compete for the starting position this year.

“We were really like ‘hey, we want to be here’” said Farr recently. “‘We want to be in San Antonio. We love the people. We love the community. We love what the organization is trying to do.’ And so, we informed the club. That was our final say on the matter.”

It’s fair to say San Antonio’s title defense in 2023 hadn’t gone to plan.

The side was leaking more goals, and its games felt less in control than in the season prior. San Antonio gained more points from losing positions (19) than it had in any prior season under Head Coach Alen Marcina, but it also dropped more points (10) than its miniscule total of two points dropped in the 2022 regular season. It was one of the factors in the club’s 14 drawn contests, the most in the league.

Some of Farr’s numbers were down from 2022 – understandable given he had equaled the single-season shutouts record in winning the Championship’s Goalkeeper of the Year award – but overall they still looked solid. His goals-prevented mark sat at -2.01 – an improvement on his 2022 mark (+0.8) – and his goals-against average still sat below 1.00 for the season.

But for as many key saves as he was making, there were errors that were also costing the team results. According to Opta, five of Farr’s errors led to a shot for the opponent, and four turned into goals. No goalkeeper in the Championship recorded more in either category during the regular season.

Jordan Farr helped San Antonio FC claim the 2022 USL Championship title and was voted the league's Goalkeeper of the Year in the same campaign. | Photo courtesy Darren Abate / San Antonio FC

“I’d say there’s three or four errors that I made that are uncharacteristic, which led to a tie versus El Paso and a loss versus Tulsa,” said Farr. “But then again, there were many times where I made a big save that saved three points, so it is what it is. I am unhappy with the errors that were made, but overall as far as consistency and performance goes, I didn’t feel like it was far off.”

Having been told by Marcina in July the club was in the market for a goalkeeper to offer competition in net, September brought Nick Marsman to the club on loan from Major League Soccer. The Dutch shot-stopper needed to play all five of the side’s remaining regular season games to make him eligible for the postseason, so he stepped in for SAFC’s clash with the Tampa Bay Rowdies on September 16, as per the plan Farr was aware of. 

When the postseason arrived, Marsman remained between the sticks, even if SAFC’s defensive fortunes hadn’t seen a major overall change. In his five regular season appearances, Marsman posted a 1.8 goals-against average, a save percentage of 62.5 percent, and a Goals Prevented mark of +0.15. When San Antonio was eliminated 3-1 by Sacramento Republic FC in the Western Conference Semifinals, it brought an unsurprising end to its title reign.

At the time, Farr endeavored to be a supportive teammate as the club tried to find a path to a second consecutive title. As the offseason went on, however, while Farr had told the club of his desire to stay, other clubs became aware of the potential to acquire him, and conversations began on a potential move.

With the departure of starter Connor Sparrow, the Tampa Bay Rowdies were among those who reached out, and the wheels started to move.

“We had a number of names in front of us both domestically or internationally, but when Jordan’s name came up a number of weeks ago, with his experience within the league and having won the Championship, we feel it was an interesting one,” said Rowdies Head Coach Robbie Nielson. “The goalkeeping coach here, Stuart Dobson, knew of him and had coached against him and he gave him a really good report, so we started investigating it. To get him, we’re absolutely delighted.”

Jordan Farr's transfer from San Antonio FC to the Tampa Bay Rowdies was one of the major moves of the offseason within the USL Championship. | Photo courtesy Tampa Bay Rowdies

“Tampa is obviously a beautiful place and we have so many friends and family that live here, so it kind of worked in a really amazing way,” added Farr. “I feel like God paved the way to make something happen that we didn’t even know was a possibility.”

The environment Farr is stepping into is one that’s as pressure-packed as the one he departed in San Antonio.

The Rowdies have twice won the Championship’s Eastern Conference title and have finished in the top three in the conference’s standings each of the past three campaigns. There is expectation within the locker room, a mood that’s been added to by the hiring of Neilson, who brings a trophy-winning resume in his native Scotland with him to Al Lang Stadium.

From Farr’s perspective, it’s an ideal place to be. Arriving in the Rowdies locker room for the first day of training camp last month, there were plenty of familiar faces from his time in the league that helped him quickly settle in.

“You look around and these are all guys that that have been playing in the league for a bit, and who’ve been playing for Tampa Bay at least for one or two years,” said Farr. “It felt like I was being added to a very established group already, and that was a really neat thing. I’d say about 60 percent of the guys are returning. You look around and you’ve got Cal Jennings, Charlie Dennis, you’ve got Forrest [Lasso], you’ve got Aaron [Guillen], all these amazing players.

“We’re stepping into a place where there’s so much respect for the game, so much experience. There’s just a crazy desire to want to be here, to want to do well, and to want to hold themselves to a high standard.”

Since his arrival with the Tampa Bay Rowdies in January, goalkeeper Jordan Farr has settled quickly into the new environment for a team with big aspirations for the 2024 season. | Photo courtesy Tampa Bay Rowdies

From what he’s seen so far, Neilson believes Farr can help the Rowdies push through and win the USL Championship Final. In Farr and fellow offseason arrival Manuel Arteaga – both via transfers – Tampa Bay has brought in two players that in the past two seasons walked off the stage on the final game of the season with winner’s medals, an attribute Neilson believes is important when it comes to the do-or-die nature of the postseason.

“He’s already added a lot of value to the group,” said Neilson of Farr. “To get someone who’s experienced winning the Championship, I think that’s really important. Ultimately, that’s our objective at the start of the season – as it will be for a number of clubs – so to get guys that have been there, ran the course and gotten over the line, it’s really important because it brings experience of doing it, but also management in the dressing room, the expectations of playing in these bigger games.”

There will be big games to come for Farr and the Rowdies this season, but it’s notable that their first game of the regular season campaign on March 16 will bring an immediate chance for Farr to face his former club. San Antonio visits Al Lang Stadium in what should be Farr’s league debut for Tampa Bay, and while everyone’s saying the right things now it promises to be an intriguing storyline as the game gets closer.

“I talked with Mitch [Taintor], Shannon [Gomez], Carter [Manley] and the boys over there that I’m excited to see them real early,” said Farr. “They have a wonderful team, they’re signing big players, they have big expectations always and they’re going to be up for it. The first game of the season really sets the tone, so it’s definitely something that we’ve already marked on our calendars.

“I'm not trying to think too much about it. To be honest, I’m just trying to get fit, making sure we’re up to par as a team and as a goalkeeping corps, just trying to put one foot in front of the other.”

Former teammates Mitchell Taintor and Jordan Farr are set to square off when San Antonio FC visits the Tampa Bay Rowdies on March 16 at Al Lang Stadium in Tampa Bay's opening game of the new USL Championship season. | Photo courtesy Darren Abate / San Ant

Farr, though, feels settled. He and his wife have found an apartment in South Tampa, and they’re expecting their second child this year. The path to their new city wasn’t one that was anticipated, but they’re enjoying the new surroundings greatly.

They’re also hoping to be part of the Rowdies, and the club’s future success, for a while.

“I’m not really a person that comes to a place to expect to leave after a year,” said Farr. “When I come to a place I want to be, I want to be there, I don't see myself leaving. I just want [the fans] to see me as someone that they can trust, someone that is genuine and fully themselves in every aspect of their lives – not just on the field, as a community member as well.

“To me, I just want them to see someone who’s genuine and representative. And I hope to do that and I hope to learn and to grow into that as well.”

Follow the USL Championship

Most Recent News

Most Read News

Latest Videos