When you're a goalscorer you want to score goals: It's what you do. So when the chances fail to go your way, and the zeros start piling up on the scoresheets, you feel the mounting pressure to find the back of the net. And when that moment finally arrives, you rejoice.
Chad Barrett, the San Jose Earthquakes forward, knows exactly how it feels. Since his move to the Quakes as a free agent over the off-season, the former Seattle Sounder has waited week after week to strike his first goal for San Jose. Last Saturday, against Orlando City, he notched the first of what he hopes will be many for the Blue and Black
"It's about time," said Barrett to Center Line Soccer, recounting the goal that was the first of two the Quakes scored in a thrilling 2-2 road draw in Florida. "It wasn't as bad as I've experienced in my career, given that I only had six appearances before my goal, but the fact that it was 15 games into the season was the hard part."
Following the goal, a well-placed header from a delivery by Shea Salinas, Barrett raced to the sideline and celebrated by grabbing and throwing to the ground the proverbial monkey on his back. The MLS veteran was signed with the expectation that he would be able to contribute 5-10 goals this season, but the year did not begin the way he had hoped, and the scoring opportunities were sparse.
"That injury I had right before the first game of the season was tough," said Barrett, "and the goal brought me full circle from that injury. For a couple of reasons, both for the team and coming back from the injury, it was significant for me for personally. Maybe it was more of a gorilla I had to get off my back than a monkey."
With Chris Wondolowski still with the U.S. men's national team as part of the 2016 Copa America Centenario, Barrett had hoped to replace the Quakes all-time leader scorer in the starting line-up. However, head coach Dominic Kinnear has entrusted Simon Dawkins to pair with Quincy Amarikwa on the forward line, and Barrett has had to look on from the bench, waiting for his chance to make an impact as a substitute.
"I thought Chad's attitude when he stepped on the field was excellent," said Kinnear of Barrett's performance in Orlando. "His goal started when he made a pass from the halfway line and followed it with his run. I was very happy for him, not just for the goal, but the manner by which it happened. It was a prototypical Chad Barrett goal."
And the celebration?
"I got a good chuckle out of that," laughed Kinnear. "Poor monkey. Hopefully it propels him to score more goals for us."
Barrett is likely to get his chance to add to his Earthquakes scoring total in the California Clasico at Stanford Stadium on Saturday, though it will be like it was in Orlando, as a late game substitute. Kinnear is expected to field the same starting eleven that featured in Florida, and he'll call for Barrett to come in to possibly feast on a tired LA Galaxy defense.
"Chad makes good runs, and he puts himself in good positions," said Kinnear. "He brings good energy when we need it most."
Barrett knows what it's like to play in the Cali Clasico at Stanford, featuring for the Galaxy back in 2012 when the Quakes won in dramatic fashion 4-3 in front of a packed house. He'll be ready to make his mark for the home side this time out, and he's looking forward to again playing in front of a big crowd.
"It is great when fans come out in droves," said Barrett. "Sometimes they don't know how big an influence they have as 50,000 strong, the extra energy they give us at the ends of games. In Orlando, we had to find that within ourselves, but at home when you are digging from behind, it is much easier with the crowd behind you. And when you need that goal to win, they are just urging you on. That plays such a big, big role."
The Earthquakes have found it difficult to find the back of the net as of late, so scoring twice against Orlando City was a big boost of confidence for the offense. And while Barrett sees the advantage of a huge, supporter crowd behind them, Kinnear expects his players will perform their best regardless of the locale.
"When the game is on, you don't spend too much time worried about the stadium and where you are playing," said Kinnear. "The results and the atmosphere have been really good there, and hopefully that continues on Saturday night. Any time you get to play in front of 50,000 people, it's a special night."
So where will the goals come from? The starting line-up will do their best to get on the scoreboard early, but Barrett and the bench are ready to make their contributions too. Overall, the objective is to score early and often against the Galaxy, and if all goes as planned, earn another three points at their home away from home.
"I expect a good amount of goals," said Barrett, "and we are going to continue our goal scoring streak as a team. I fully expect to win."