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Barrett looking to end drought
April 18, 2009, 2:33 PM
Filed under: Chad Barrett, Toronto FC

“Hopefully, next game ma’am,” was Ian Wright’s reply when Her Majesty asked the former Arsenal striker when he would finally score for England – and he dutifully delivered on that prediction to end an eight-match drought.

Luckily for Chad Barrett, the Queen is not a Toronto FC supporter, one presumes, and with his own goalless streak standing at four games and counting, the forward seems unfazed by the weight of expectation that comes with the position.

“It’s not really a burden. You’ve got to consider it a privilege, you know, you’re starting on a team in [Major League Soccer], and you’re up front for a very good team, but you need to score, put some balls in the back of the net,” the U.S.-born striker said. “If I don’t score and we win, I couldn’t care less, but if we tie or lose, then I feel it.”

It’s taken as read that he was feeling it this past week, then, after passing up a hatful of chances in last Saturday’s 1-1 home draw with FC Dallas, who are also this weekend’s opponents, too, in Dallas.

Certainly, Barrett is looking to cash in tomorrow and open his account for the 2009 MLS season.

“I really hope it works out [tomorrow], that something happens and I end up right in front of goal, two yards out, and I just get a tap-in. I’d love for that to be my first goal,” he said. “I wouldn’t care if it was that or the goal of the year, I really don’t care as long as it goes in – a goal’s a goal.”

TFC head coach John Carver has no doubts about the 23-year-old’s ability to score, which will be key to his team realizing its goal of a playoff berth this season.

“I’d be concerned if Chad wasn’t even getting the chances, but the fact that he is getting chances – all right, he’s not converting them – but I know what he can do and that he is a good goal scorer,” Carver said.

Having “been through slumps my whole life,” Barrett is no stranger to being frustrated in front of the goal, but despite being ambitious, he refuses to put the cart before the horse.

“Obviously, I want to score goals – I’d love to win the golden boot for the team and for the whole league – but it’s going to take a goal to start that run,” he said.

After Barrett finished as top goal scorer for TFC last year – nine in total, split between Toronto and his time with the Chicago Fire – Carver has continually reaffirmed his level of faith in the youngster. And after coming through a hamstring strain picked up in last weekend’s draw, Dwayne De Rosario is set to resume his role as Barrett’s strike partner tomorrow, which suits the Canadian international just fine.

“I like playing up top with another forward because it causes more of a threat and defenders have to watch where two people are going at one time and interchanging,” Barrett said. “Dwayne does a great job at that.”

De Rosario, who just got off the mark himself with his first goal for TFC last Saturday, returned the compliment.

“He’s an honest player, he works hard and gets himself in the right areas,” De Rosario said. “The only part [lacking] in his game right now is finishing his chances, but the main thing is that he’s getting those chances, so that’s a positive. … Once he starts finishing them, he could have at least 10 to 15 goals a season.”

Carver will take just one for now, but in its absence he was still impressed with the pressure his attackers put on the opposition defence last weekend, and will be looking for more of the same tomorrow.

“I thought it was the best pressure we’ve had on the ball,” he said, “and if you put pressure on the ball higher up the field then you’ll create chances because you’re in a better position to exploit that and counter.”

That approach also helps keep the ball out of your own net.

“If you’re a defender, and you’ve got your strikers pressing the ball high, then your job becomes easier, and the same with the midfield players,” Carver said.

However, this approach requires a high work rate, and while Barrett has no problems in that department, as Carver acknowledged after last weekend’s game, he can sometimes overdo it, and that may lead to problems.

“The one thing with Chad Barrett – and I know he’s having a hard time at the moment – but that’s the hardest he’s worked in a game in a long time, so when you’re working as hard as that, you become tired quicker so then when you become tired your legs go, your brain goes, and you become slack at things,” the coach said.

And while Carver said that Barrett is “a million times fitter than last season,” it may not be his physical fitness that’s the problem.

“Maybe he’s thinking about it too much, because another thing that gets you is mental exhaustion,” said the coach, referencing the cerebral approach of another round-ball game.

“There’s loads of similarities between golf and football,” he said. “You play one round of golf and you think you’re Jack Nicklaus, you go the next time and you’re Jacques Cousteau.”

***

NOTES: Toronto FC have never won in Dallas, scoring just two goals in one tie and one loss at Pizza Hut Park. … The 1-1 draw at BMO Field on April 11 was FC Dallas’s first point of the 2009 MLS season after three losses. … After taking just one point from its first two home games, TFC hopes that going back on the road offers a better return, where it has taken four points of a possible six this season.

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