For years, Chad Barrett has wanted to play for Sigi Schmid in MLS. When he became available through the Re-Entry Process this year, Sounders FC leapt at the chance to bring in the nine-year veteran.
However, with Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey on the roster, Barrett would need to accept a reserve role.
Now with Dempsey away on international duty, the opportunity for more playing time has arisen and Barrett has grasped onto it with two goals in his first two starts for Seattle.
"He is a guy who brings it every single day and elevates the level in training," Sounders FC Sporting Director Chris Henderson said. "He's upset when he's not playing, which is what you want as long as it's not disruptive. It's great to see, when guys get their opportunities and they perform."
In Seattle's first 12 matches, Barrett was used exclusively off the bench and while it wasn't his preferred position, he didn't let the role keep him from contributing. In the season-opener, he scored a stoppage-time goal to beat Sporting Kansas City 1-0.
Now with Dempsey away, it's Barrett's time to shine and he has prepared throughout the season for this opportunity.
"I just needed to be ready, so in the practice weeks leading up I made sure my fitness was where it needed to be. Having the reserve games, whether it was college games or reserve games, it's important to do those to get match fitness," Barrett said. "While Dempsey's away, I'm trying to utilize my chances as much as I can and I'm having a lot of fun."
On May 24, Barrett started in the midfield against Vancouver Whitecaps FC, a position that he was familiar with, but hadn't played regularly in some time. Even still, he was able to score a first-half goal, snapping a header into the net for his second goal of the season.
Then on Saturday, he started at his more comfortable forward position and was again able to make an impact.
He was a workhorse for Seattle up front, battling with Real Salt Lake center back Nat Borchers throughout the afternoon while also easing the burden on the shoulders of Martins.
In the 62nd minute, the work paid off when Barrett netted his third goal of the season on a ball from Lamar Neagle.
"I think in the first half, getting beat up by their defenders from the back was a new thing. Nat Borchers is a physical guy, but it's awesome to be up there again," Barrett said. "In the second half, I played better with Oba. In the first half, I was straying too far from him. I always know I'm going to get more chances when I'm playing up top."
In nine matches with Seattle, just two in starting roles, Barrett has three goals and one assist as Seattle has moved to the top of the Supporters' Shield standings at 9-3-2. The additions of players like Barrett, Kenny Cooper, Marco Pappa and Stefan Frei are big reasons for that first-half success.
"He's scored some important goals and he has that ability and capability," Schmid said. "I have been very pleased with what he's done. He's a big addition for us, along with Kenny, because we knew there would be a time in the season when we needed those guys and they came through."