After scoring his seventh goal of the season on Sunday, Chad Barrett twirled like a ballerina to pay off a fantasy football bet with a friend who was in attendance at Providence Park in Portland, where Sounders FC bested the Timbers 4-2.
The moment was indicative of the fun Barrett is having in his first year in Seattle. His success on the field has Head Coach Sigi Schmid and his Sounders FC teammates dancing, too, even if only in the figurative sense.
“He’s been one of our bright spots this year,” said Seattle captain Brad Evans, who has known Barrett since their days facing off on the youth soccer circuit and played with him on the U.S. U-20 National Team in 2005. “I’m happy for him because the guy works so, so hard. He loves soccer, he loves this team and he loves this city. I couldn’t be happier for him or more proud of him.”
That stint with the U.S. U-20s started Barrett along a path that eventually landed him in Seattle. Schmid coached that team and forged a quick bond with Barrett, who said he tried to play for Schmid ever since he came back to MLS to coach the Columbus Crew in 2006.
“When I was with the 20s, he was one of the first coaches that I played with that was always really straight with me, no matter what,” Barrett said. “The fact that he’s always been that way is something that I respect about him. If I’m not playing, he will at least tell me why. He doesn’t beat around the bush, which is all I really need.”
That aspiration finally materialized this off-season when Seattle selected Barrett in the Re-Entry Draft, bringing the 10-year MLS veteran into a re-tooled Sounders FC roster that has climbed to the top spot in the Supporters’ Shield standings.
The mutual respect formed between Schmid and Barrett in 2005 has gone a long way in ensuring that the latter has the greatest chance to succeed with his fifth MLS club.
“I always felt that he and I understood each other and had a good relationship. I think that’s helped,” Schmid said. “He’s a guy I think is comfortable here in this club. When you’re comfortable, you get confident and you play better as well.”
Barrett has been able to strike a balance between contributing off the bench in key moments and providing Schmid with a good option in a starting role when necessary.
That meant a lot of playing time in May, June and July when Clint Dempsey was away with the U.S. National Team at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. He capitalized, scoring three goals in six matches in that stretch. Now, he is on another tear, scoring in three straight MLS matches and four straight games overall after adding a goal in the U.S. Open Cup semifinal as well.
“I had a good spell when Dempsey was at the World Cup and got some goals under my belt and got some confidence going,” Barrett said. “I’ve been able to find goals off the bench. When the starters do really well, it makes it easier for guys coming off the bench. Guys like Dempsey and Oba and Pappa draw so much attention to themselves and we have guys who can just play.”
His seven goals this season represents his highest single-season total with one team. In 2008, he set his career-high with nine goals in a season he split between the Chicago Fire and Toronto FC. Surpassing that total is a goal for him this season, but is far from his ideal target—winning championships with Sounders FC.
“Seven is great, but it’s nowhere near the ceiling. My goal is 10. I’ve never reached double digits,” he said. “What I really want to do is win the Supporters’ Shield. I’ve never done that before. I want to win the Open Cup and I want to win the MLS Cup. But I want to be greedy this year. As a team, we need to really get that mindset. At the end of the season, if I have 10 goals, great. If I don’t and we have the MLS Cup, even better.”
Barrett and the Sounders will host the Colorado Rapids on Saturday at 1 pm PT at CenturyLink Field.