Former New Orleans Jesters goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell has experienced a great deal of success in his career. He’s done so much and he’s only 26. He’s been a star in the NPSL, played for a NCAA national championship, and been part of two successful franchises as a professional. And the sky remains the limit for a player that first experienced success as a youth player years ago in Louisiana.
“I’m really grateful for my experience growing up in the Mandeville/New Orleans area,” Tarbell said. “One of my biggest mentors growing up was Mike Ortner at Mandeville Soccer Club. He did so much for me. Basically he, along with my sister, was the reason why I fell in love with the game. That experience and the time he gave me were huge for how my career turned out.”
The Mandeville, LA native started with the Jesters at the age of 16, beating out two older and more experienced keepers. Tarbell impressed at the amateur level, paving the way for him to play at a major college program and eventually the pros.
“The Jesters gave me an opportunity to tryout and play for them when I was 16,” Tarbell said. “That was the first time I played at a super high, competitive level. I got to play games against guys that were much older than me. It was a huge learning experience and stepping stone that helped me get into college soccer and the professional level.”
There are only three players from Louisiana currently in MLS and two of them, Tarbell and Patrick Mullins, came from the Jesters.
“Kenny Farrell was really great to me,” Tarbell said. “He identified that I had some talent. He was willing to bring me in and look after me because I was a young guy. And he has done that for other guys after me as well. He has an eye for talent around the area, and not just Louisiana, he brings in guys from overseas. He’s looking for young talent to come in and compete with the Jesters and use that program to better their career.”
Tarbell would continue his career at Clemson University, a major Division I program. He took the ACC by storm, earning NSCAA Second Team All-America and All-ACC honors and leading the Tigers to a national title game before earning a Generation adidas contract.
“College was a great experience for me on and off the field,” Tarbell said. “It was a good experience for me to be away from home for the first time. I had to take care of myself and deal with school and soccer all at the same time. As far as growing up as a man, it was extremely important for me. On the field there were a lot of new tactical things for me to learn. Physically I had to learn to take care of my body as we were playing everyday. Playing in the ACC in front of big crowds and in high-pressure games was a great experience for me. I needed those years of development before I could become a professional. In my experience, I needed the Jesters and I needed college and I’m extremely grateful for my experiences at both.”
Tarbell was taken eighth overall by the San Jose Earthquakes in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft. He would go on to make 41 appearances for the Quakes over four seasons. He was the starter in San Jose in 2018, logging 87 saves and one shutout in 2,610 minutes of play.
“Obviously my first four years of my professional career were in San Jose and I had to grow up a lot,” Tarbell said. “I had a lot of good experiences. I’m trying to take everything I learned both on and off the field and build off it.”
Tarbell proved over and over again that he was one of the best young talents in the league, a player with huge upside. Columbus Crew SC head coach Caleb Porter recognized that talent and acquired Tarbell via trade in February.
“We want as much competition as possible,” Porter said. “We felt when the opportunity arose to add Andrew that he increased our competition and gave us even more peace of mind. We felt it was a really good opportunity to add a quality young goalkeeper. We see him pushing for that number two position, which means that there will be opportunities to play. And it doesn’t hurt that Tim Hanley has worked with him and knows him extremely well.”
Tarbell joins the likes of Eloy Room, Jon Kempin, and Matt Lampson at the Crew, giving Columbus arguably the best goalkeeping unit in the entire country.
“I am excited to be here in Columbus,” Tarbell said. “Everything has been great. The players and coaching staff have been really great to me and I feel very comfortable being here.”
Getting a fresh start and being reunited with a former coach is a special opportunity. Expectations are high and rightfully so.
“My biggest goal is to just compete at my best level everyday,” Tarbell said. “That is what I can control, preparing myself and competing to the highest level that I possibly can. The cards fall as they may after that. We have a really talented team here, a really tight group, a bunch of good guys. Everyone gets along and is on the same page. I think we have high standards for ourselves as a team. We are off to a good start this year and we look to continue that. The playoffs and MLS Cup are a goal for this team.”
Tarbell was in the 18 for the first two games of the 2020 MLS season and should find himself there again when the season resumes. Everyone in Louisiana is rooting for Tarbell to succeed, but none louder than Kenny Farrell of the New Orleans Jesters.
“I have no doubt about his ability to play in MLS,” Farrell said. “I know his competitive nature, his character, and his professionalism. Don’t doubt Andrew’s ability to make a massive impact at the Columbus Crew.”
Photo Credit: Ken Tishenkel/ISNSoccer.com