SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Looking fitter than anyone else on the field, Chad Barrett jogged off the training pitch after another solid day of preseason work. He seemed to be enjoying his first days as a forward for the San Jose Earthquakes, and was already fitting in nicely with his new teammates. Of course, moving to a new city and getting to know a new team has become old hat over the career of the 11-year MLS veteran.
"It seems I have a lot of chapters," said Barrett following training on media day. "This will be my sixth team, and that's not by choice. I would loved to have had a career where I stayed at one team the entire time."
Barrett is joining his sixth MLS team in San Jose, having broken into the league in 2005 with the Chicago Fire and spending time with Toronto FC, the LA Galaxy, and the New England Revolution. For the last two seasons, the 30-year-old forward plied his trade with the Seattle Sounders. This off-season, he joined the Earthquakes as a free-agent.
"I didn't think I deserved to be let go by Seattle, and I voiced my opinion to the coaching staff," said Barrett. "But they had a direction they wanted to go in, and I wasn't a part of that plan. I can accept that. Do I agree with it? Absolutely not. But that is not my decision. My job is play soccer."
Since arriving to MLS as the third-overall selection of the 2005 MLS SuperDraft, Barrett has made it a habit to score goals. In 255 career appearances, 162 of them as a starter, he has tallied 56 goals and 30 assists. His career-high is 7 goals, a mark he has reached four times in 11 seasons, including 2014, when he was a part-time starter with the Sounders.
"Give me 15 minutes, 2 minutes, or 90 minutes, I'm going to score a goal," said Barrett. "That can be an infectious disease that can spread throughout the team. That's what we want to bring here, because we have improvements to make on last season."
The Earthquakes attacking corps had a less than successful season in 2015, with perennial leading scorer Chris Wondolowski topping the charts with 16 goals. Quincy Amarikwa was second on the list with 6 -- only one more than Barrett scored last year in Seattle. In total, San Jose hit the back of the net 39 times last season, a number that will surely need to increase if the Quakes are going to break a three-year MLS Cup playoffs drought.
"I can only help ones that want to be helped, show what I can show, and hopefully when I do show, people feed off of my energy," said Barrett. "That's something I pride myself on: bringing energy. I hope to bring it every time I step onto the field."
Playing behind the likes of Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins in Seattle, Barrett was not a sure-fire starter for head coach Sigi Schmid. In San Jose, he starts the preseason behind Innocent, Wondolowski, and Amarikwa in the pecking order at forward. Still, the challenge to make the starting lineup, and the chance to do it in San Jose under the tutelage of head coach Dominic Kinnear, were the driving forces that led him to choose the Earthquakes when he became a free agent after last season.
"Dominic saw the potential and talent in me," said Barrett, "and I've played for him before on a Generation Adidas trip to Spain. It's very nice to be back on his team again, because he's a 4-4-2 kind of coach which is a formation I like to play. We have fast wingers here that like to get down the field, and I like to crash the box. Balls will be coming in, and I hope I get a bunch of one-timers and score goals."
That sounds a lot like the style Wondolowski already offers the Quakes, and Barrett sees a similarity in the tale the two share.
"I can appreciate everything about Wondolowski," said Barrett. "Cinderella story, all that type of stuff. He made his legacy, you know, as a Supplementary Draft pick. I love stories like that, underdog stories, because that is what I am, an underdog in everybody's eyes. Teams have given up on me, and I love scoring against my old teams. I'll probably score against Seattle this year, and LA again. The Wondo story is one the best you have in MLS."
And one that is likely to continue in 2016, meaning Barrett will likely see his playing time limited to substitute appearances when Wondolowski is healthy and available. Having the same experience in Seattle, where he played behind international stars in Dempsey and Martins, Barrett is well conditioned for what it takes to be successful off the bench.
"You have to catch up to the game pretty quickly," said Barrett. "The hardest thing you need to do is catch your breath. It's excitable, especially when you have 50,000 fans like you do in Seattle, and you have to catch up to the pace of the game, you have to collect yourself, and you have to be ready to put in that one chance you might get. That's something I have been pretty good at in the past. Would I like to take on a starting role? Absolutely, but I will do whatever is asked of me here."