Is Andrew Tarbell deserving of the starting role in SJ? | Who's the Best?

Audi Player Index Who's the Best - REVISED DL IMAGE

In soccer, it is sometimes said that cup competitions can be a great way for reserve players to prove themselves worthy of a spot in the starting XI. With his strong performance in the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup, San Jose’s Andrew Tarbell is proving that adage true. 

The 23-year-old goalkeeper made 11 saves against Sporting Kansas City in the Open Cup match, buoying his team for 120 minutes before coming up short in the penalty-kick shootout. And when the starting XI came out for the Earthquakes’ game against Houston three days later, Tarbell’s name was still in the lineup.

Since then, the Louisiana native has impressed in his three-match run as San Jose’s No. 1, despite the Quakes going winless. According to the Audi Player Index, Tarbell’s composite season average of 434 is solidly above the league average for goalkeepers of 301.

Tarbell’s Audi Player Index average places him fifth in the list of goalkeepers, ahead of standout goalkeepers like Philadelphia’s Andre Blake and Sporting KC’s Tim Melia, albeit with an extremely small sample size. Tarbell’s distribution, especially, has him in good stead – his average of over 90 offensive Audi Index points is exceptional among goalkeepers and demonstrates his ability to connect passes with his field players.

Is Andrew Tarbell deserving of the starting role in SJ? | Who's the Best? -

He’s getting it done defensively, too as he ranks in the top two in each of the following goalkeeping categories: Saves (from penalty kicks), Punches, Saves (fingertip), and Saves (body). 

With David Bingham, who ranks second-to-last among goalkeepers eligible for the Audi Player Index Award, also worthy of playing time in San Jose, it will be interesting to see how head coach Chris Leitch handles the minutes. However, based on Audi Index metrics alone, Tarbell makes a strong case to be wearing the gloves for the Earthquakes.

We will see who’s in net as San Jose takes the field in Sunday’s Cali Clasico against the LA Galaxy (7 pm ET; FS1, FOX Deportes in US | MLS LIVE in Canada).