BOSTON – This season has tested New England Revolution forward Chad Barrett in ways he may not have expected.
The 28-year-old veteran has battled a hamstring injury and has missed four matches in May and June. He has found himself omitted from the matchday squad at points when he returned to health. He has taken the field for just 116 minutes.
It is a situation that contradicts Barrett's usual production at this level. He appears regularly (23 or more matches in every season from 2007-2011, plus 16 more with the LA Galaxy last year before a loan spell with Norwegian side Vålerenga) and scores at a predictable clip (five or more goals in six of his previous eight seasons).
WATCH: Barrett's goal vs. Chivas USA
But New England head coach Jay Heaps has opted to lean on other players to fill any vacancies up front, a predicament that leaves Barrett searching for the patience few players possess.
“You don't [have patience],” Barrett told MLSsoccer.com during a charity event on Boston Harbor's Long Island on Monday. “As a soccer player, you always want to be the one on the field. You don't want to be the one on the bench. You don't want to be the one not in the team. You want to be on the field, helping the team. Every good soccer player feels that they are the best player for that team.”
The situation leaves Barrett to fight for minutes with the likes of Juan Agudelo, Jerry Bengtson, Dimitry Imbongo and Saër Sène and press his claims when he finally takes the field. His work in June – including goals against LA and Chivas USA to start and end the month – buttressed his case for more playing time as the season progresses.
WATCH: Barrett scores vs. Galaxy
“It's hard for me to come by minutes right now,” Barrett said. “The only way I can get on the field really is when I do get on is to help the team the best I can. The best thing I can do is score goals.”
Barrett received seven minutes to change the game in the 1-1 draw at Chivas USA on Saturday night and used them efficiently. His late equalizer earned the out-of-sorts Revs a road point and placed him in a position to benefit if Heaps decides to make a change up front.
Agudelo represented the primary rival for the central striking berth, but a knee injury will likely keep him out for the short term. Barrett could warrant consideration in that spot or as a wide player in the Revs' 4-1-4-1 (or 4-3-3, depending on the positioning of the wingers) ahead of Saturday's match against San Jose (7:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE).
“Of course it affects me just because he's a guy in my position,” Barrett said. “I can play pretty much all three positions up top. It's one less forward up there and he was on fire. He was doing really well for the team. You never want to see him get injured, you never want to see him go down. But when someone in your position goes down, it's up to you to step in and fill that role as if he's still there.”
Until that point arrives, Barrett will continue to push through the gauntlet laid in front of him. It isn't his typical season, but it is one still within his power to change as the second half of the season unfolds.
Kyle McCarthy covers the New England Revolution for MLSsoccer.com.