Toronto FC welcomes Chad Barrett to town
For Toronto FC, striker Chad Barrett is a sight for sore eyes.
Barrett landed in Toronto and trained with his new teammates for the first time Friday morning since being acquired in a trade with the Chicago Fire earlier this week.
The 23-year-old led the Fire in scoring this season with five goals, and his arrival in Toronto could not have come at a better time — the Canadian club is mired in a five-game winless streak (its last win coming on June 14) and has only scored three goals during that run.
Barrett believes he can help Toronto turn things around.
"It's a big change for me because I spent four years in Chicago, but I'm ready to come here and to do well with this team and make a life in this city. I'm very happy to be here, and you're going to get 100 per cent out of me every game," Barrett told reporters Friday afternoon.
A former teammate of Toronto FC defender Marvell Wynne at UCLA, Barrett will be expected to immediately supply some much needed offence for a goal-starved Toronto team, but he insists the pressure doesn't bother him.
"I'm a forward and I get paid to score goals. The fans are expecting a lot out of me and I welcome that pressure. Good players thrive on pressure," Barrett said.
Adding experience to the forward line
Asked by CBCSports.ca what he brings to the table in terms of skills, Barrett answered: "I think I'm a good finisher, I get behind the defence, and hopefully I can bring a bit of experience to the forward line."
Toronto's poor run of form has seen the club drop to fifth place in Major League Soccer's Eastern Conference. It is in danger of sliding out of the playoff race completely if it doesn't start getting some results, and soon.
But Barrett believes Toronto can still challenge for a post-season spot.
"They started off great at home this year and have slipped recently, but I'm sure the team will get back on track," the forward said.
"We've got a 6-7-4 record, and I've been on teams who have only won 10 games in a season and got into the playoffs. … we're in good shape and can still make the post-season."
Barrett's arrival in Toronto from Chicago was a long time coming.
Deal hammered out recently
Toronto owned the rights to veteran forward Brian McBride, but after finishing with English club Fulham in May, the 36-year-old declared he wanted to play in the MLS in his hometown of Chicago.
Chicago and Toronto had been talking about the deal for several weeks before an agreement was hammered out in the past seven days, with the Fire sending Toronto Barrett and a first-round pick in the 2009 draft in exchange for McBride.
"I half expected a move, but I only found out on the day of the MLS all-star game," Barrett said. "It has taken a bit of patience to get to this point, but I'm glad I'm finally here and had a good first session with the guys. It was a great practice and I'm ready to go."
He better be, because coach John Carver said Barrett will be in the starting lineup Sunday when Toronto FC hosts FC Dallas (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 4 p.m. ET).
"I can guarantee he will be the first name on the team sheet," said Carver. "He's fitted right in with the guys and he's got confidence. He's got a little bit of arrogance, which I think you need as a striker.
"He's got all of the ingredients, I don't want to put too much pressure on him but we've definitely got something to work with."