Chad Barrett has chance to turn the tide for TFC
Thursday, July 31, 2008 | 01:10 AM ET
In some respects the comparisons are eerily similar.
They are both strikers, they both wear red jerseys, they were born in the same year, they’re the same height, and there’s more than a passing resemblance.
There, the similarities come to an abrupt halt.
One lives in an $8-million mansion in Cheshire, England; the other will soon be house hunting in Toronto. To the best of my knowledge they have never met, never mind played against one another but Toronto FC Coach John Carver is hoping Chad Barrett can, in his own way, do for TFC what Wayne Rooney has done for Manchester United.
Don’t get me wrong - I’m not for a minute suggesting Barrett is in the same class as Rooney. If he were he wouldn’t be coming to Toronto, he’d be heading for the richer playing fields of Europe whence his successor Brian McBride has just returned.
Barrett, a product of UCLA, has scored 18 goals in three and a half years with the Chicago Fire; Rooney, a product of the Everton Youth Academy, has already surpassed the 50-goal mark in Premier League play alone approaching his fourth anniversary at Old Trafford.
Goals win games and Toronto needs some - soon.
Barrett offers Carver a different option. He’s young, mobile, and shoots with both feet but can hardly be considered prolific in his career to date. I don’t think he’s the answer to Toronto’s inability to convert its chances, but he can be part of the solution.
In 2008 the 23-year-old has scored five goals, but has set up four others. Nobdy on the current TFC roster can match those numbers. Danny Dichio has five goals and two helpers while Amado Guevara has three goals and three assists since his return to Major League Soccer. Guevara could do for Barrett what Cuauhtémoc Blanco has done for him in The Windy City - play the through-ball inside the defender and let Barrett use his pace to finish the move.
This, of course, only works in theory. How will the new kid in town adapt to the TFC style; how will he handle the crowd pressure and how will he take to the artificial turf loathed by a significant number of his fellow professionals? Time alone will tell but Barrett needs to hit the turf running on Sunday when he will, no doubt, make his debut against Dallas.
What Barrett does have on his side is time; time to learn, time to hone his skills and time to mature into a consistent goal-scorer in MLS.
Top strikers rarely reach their peak until their late-20’s so Barrett’s willingness to work hard on his game over the next few years will be key. His career goals-per-game ratio is nothing to write home about - marginally less than a goal every four games. A top quality striker expects to average one in two, which is, perhaps, part of the reason Barrett was overlooked for the US Olympic roster despite helping his country’s U-23 team qualify for Beijing.
His omission may be a personal disappointment, but his availability for Toronto is a big plus as Barrett familiarizes himself with his new surroundings. He knows the ups and downs of being a visiting player at BMO Field having been on the receiving end of TFC’s historic first franchise win in May 2007, only to return in late July and avenge the loss.
Chad Barrett, who also scored against Toronto in Chicago last season, is by no means the finished article, but if he can bring some luck across the Great Lakes, he could be the spark Carver craves to re-ignite the season.
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About the Author
Nigel Reed lends his extensive experience, passion and knowledge of the game of soccer to his role as play-by-play announcer for CBC’s Major League Soccer broadcasts.
Reed has more than 20 years experience covering soccer, most notably a five-year stint from 1999 to 2004 where he was a host and producer for the English Premier League for BBC. He also covered English Premier League giants Liverpool and Everton for BBC Radio and provided analysis for both BBC TV and the BBC website.
More recently, Reed served as play-by-play announcer for CBC’s coverage of the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup. He also hosts The Soccer Show for the Toronto sports radio station the Fan 590.
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