Using your first-round pick on a goalkeeper when your current starter is only 26 years old and just got called into his first US national team camp might seem like a puzzling move to some folks.
To San Jose Earthquakes coach Dominic Kinnear, selecting Clemson ‘keeper Andrew Tarbell with the No. 8 overall selection in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft -- despite the presence of incumbent David Bingham, who played every regular-season minute in 2015 -- made all kinds of sense.
Kinnear defended his top choice Thursday by pointing out that Bingham -- who is current preparing with the USMNT before friendlies against Iceland and Canada -- could be called to duty during this summer’s Copa America Centenario. Bingham’s primary backup last season was Bryan Meredith, who got only three starts in 2015 -- two US Open Cup matches, and a friendly against Club America. Tarbell, a second-team All-American, helped lead the Tigers to last month's College Cup finals with an eight-save performance in the semifinals against Syracuse.
“Well, we think [Tarbell] is really good,” Kinnear told Bay Area reporters by phone from the draft in Baltimore. “And when you look at David Bingham and what’s going on with him, and Copa America around the corner -- I’d say he’s going to be involved in that -- there’s a little bit of protection involved there.”
Kinnear said that inking Argentine defender Andres Imperiale -- a deal announced just before the draft -- helped relieve any pressure to find depth on the back line with the No. 8 pick. Tarbell’s status as a Generation adidas player also helped tip the scales, since it helps free up salary-cap and roster space for additions from outside the league -- an avenue Kinnear said the Quakes are still pursuing.
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“The one thing that we agreed upon was that we felt [Tarbell] was the best player at his position, and we felt that was by a good margin,” Kinnear said. “When you look at the signings that we’ve had, Imperiale and then [Jamaican international winger] Simon Dawkins, we felt we’d addressed a couple of needs there.
“I don’t understand why this would be considered a surprise. Maybe someone thought we should have went for a midfielder or something like that, or maybe a center back, but Imperiale signed, we have Tommy Thompson and [Innocent] Emeghara coming back. We were trying to create competition for some spots, and we just felt that Andrew was a good fit at his position.”