The 2017 MLS Combine is underway in full force in LA as college hopefuls play in front of the technical staffs from across the league with the intention of making a positive impression. This week is perhaps one of the most important in the young soccer players’ lives as they look to get one step closer to a professional contract.
This time last year, Earthquakes goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell was one of the many collegiate athletes heading to Baltimore for the 2016 MLS Combine, apprehensive about what the week ahead had in store.
“I was just so unsure about what it was all about,” said Tarbell reflecting on his 2016 experience. “It was a big unknown and you could feel that amongst the players as we were getting ready for this huge event that, in our minds, was one of the most important times of our soccer lives.”
Each morning Tarbell and his fellow combine participants played games and underwent physical testing, while in the afternoon they attended seminars and interviews with the coaching staffs.
Under the watchful eyes of head coaches and general managers alike, the players aimed to be on their best form. This, of course, came with challenges as they tried to create chemistry on the field with teammates that they met only a few hours prior.
“You have a couple of hours to prepare for an extremely important game, but you have never played with these guys before,” Tarbell told sjearthquakes.com. “So you are trying to get to know them quickly.”
This is one of two things the keeper found challenging during the week. After watching the games, the technical staffs from MLS teams invited players of interest for interviews.
“I was lucky enough to get quite a few interviews, so I was bouncing around every 20 minutes to different meetings with coaching staffs. I was trying to keep names straight while walking into a room with five guys and then 10 minutes later going to a different room trying to do the same thing.”
Tarbell did not meet with the Earthquakes technical staff before he was selected as the No. 8 overall pick by the Quakes.
“I was shocked,” said Tarbell about on his draft day experience. “I did not know I was going to get picked as high as I was, but I was lucky enough to have been there with my family. It was joy knowing that I was going to have a chance to go to preseason and play. It made all of those years of hard work worth it.”
In 2016, Tarbell made his MLS debut on Aug. 27, coming in at halftime during a matchup against Columbus Crew SC. Two minutes after entering the match, he made a save that took him to the semifinals in voting for MLS Save of the Week.
Entering his second season with the Quakes, the young keeper will continue to work to earn game time as the primary backup behind David Bingham.
The 2017 MLS SuperDraft will take place on Friday, Jan. 13, starting at 12 p.m. The Quakes currently have one pick in each of the four rounds: sixth, 28th, 50th and 72nd.
Tarbell is one of six players on the Quakes roster that the club selected during the prior SuperDrafts: Chris Wondolowski (2005 – No. 41), Shea Salinas (2008 – No. 15), Quincy Amarikwa (2009 – No. 32), Fatai Alashe (2015 – No. 4) and Kip Colvey (2016 – No. 49).