By Ben Ferree/NPSL.com
When Columbus Crew SC picked up Andrew Tarbell in late February, the move didn’t make
much sense on paper. Albeit a cheap acquisition at $75,000 in General Allocation Money, the
former San Jose Earthquakes keeper seemed to have plenty of competition on the Crew roster.
Eloy Room was entrenched as the starter. Jon Kempin, last year’s backup, was still on the team,
and Columbus reacquired former Homegrown Player Matt Lampson. Despite that stiff
competition and the fact he didn’t make an MLS appearance in 2019, Tarbell claimed the backup
role entering the season.
When Room went down in the MLS is Back Tournament, Tarbell stepped in with immediate
“That’s the job of a goalkeeper, to always be ready,” Tarbell said. “We have four keepers on this
team and only one gets to play on the weekend. I’ve had to step in before and play. It’s a
situation I’ve had to come into before.”
Through three regular season games thus far, Tarbell has posted two shutouts and only allowed
one goal while making 11 saves. The two clean sheets already tie a career high for a season.
“You want to know when you need to rotate or when you have an injury, that you’re not
worried,” Crew SC head coach Caleb Porter said. “You’re not losing sleep. You’re not having
to change your game plan. With Andrew being able to step in, he was calm, he is a really
composed goalkeeper. It’s smarter when you look for pieces around the league, I’m hesitant to
say trash, but one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. He was not playing, and he’s a key
player for us.”
Porter went on to praise Columbus Crew SC General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko for finding
guys in the league who just “weren’t getting opportunities.”
“All the goalkeepers here have played in a ton of games,” Tarbell said. “It’s great to train with
these guys. We’re always talking to each other, helping each other. We’re constantly feeding
off each other. You learn something new every day with this group.”
That strong competition, along with the Crew backline, is what’s helped Columbus only give up
one non-PK goal this season.
“Going into every game, we have a very clear gameplan that everyone on the team is tuned into,”
Tarbell said. “Every guy knows what your role is going to be. It’s really a tight knit team. You
can move guys around when guys get injured, and the guys are plugged in and ready to do our
Photo Credit: RicKruszynski/ISNSoccer.com and Ken Tishenkel/ISNSoccer.com