Normally, when people talk about great partnerships in soccer, the focus is on the strike force. But in the case of the 2005 San Jose Earthquakes, their most prolific partnership just might be between their left back and left midfielder.
Wade Barrett and Brad Davis have only played in one MLS regular-season game together, but from watching the two interact in Saturday's season-opening 2-2 draw against New England, you would think they've been playing together for years.
"We have a very good partnership and work off each other very well," said Davis, in his first season with the Earthquakes after spending the first three years of his career with the MetroStars and Dallas. "I feel very comfortable with him."
Acquired in a 2005 SuperDraft-day trade with FC Dallas -- which also netted the Quakes the No. 4 overall pick in the draft (promising rookie midfielder Danny O'Rourke) -- Davis is poised to deliver on the promise he has shown throughout his young career. A left-footed player who is comfortable on the ball, Davis collected an assist on San Jose's first goal of the season, setting up striker Brian Ching with an excellent cross from the left wing.
Davis and Barrett showed excellent understanding with each other especially in the first half when the Quakes built a 2-0 lead. Davis often covered for Barrett when he went forward from his left back position in addition to pinching in centrally to encourage the attack-minded veteran to overlap.
"He's good at taking the ball inside. Brad's a fantastic player, a fantastic pickup for us," said Barrett, the long-time Earthquakes defender who spent the past two seasons playing in Denmark and Norway. "Sometimes you just end up working well with someone. I feel like we've started off with a good understanding."
The best evidence of the partnership's potential impact came just under four minutes into the new season. Davis fed Barrett on an overlap down the left side and the Quakes captain delivered an outstanding cross to forward Ronald Cerritos, whose first-time left-footed volley was blocked by New England goalkeeper Matt Reis at point-blank range.
At his best, Barrett, a member of the MLS Best XI and a finalist for MLS Defender of the Year in 2002, is a tireless two-way player who covers acres of ground along the left touchline. Davis, meanwhile, is a very skilled midfielder equally comfortable starting in the center of midfield as he is on the left side. The fourth-year pro seems well equipped to shatter his previous career-high record of six goals and five assists set in 2003 with Dallas.
"On every team, you are going to see good partnerships form at different positions on the field," said Davis. "In our case, we have been able to click right away."
Although they've played just one regular-season game together, Barrett and Davis have obviously had plenty of time to get to know one another during San Jose's successful preseason. The Earthquakes compiled an impressive record of seven wins and two draws in 13 preseason matches, including a championship run in the Carolina Challenge Cup in March.
"We've been getting to know each other for two months now," said Davis.
Now it's simply a matter of the rest of the league getting to know them.
Danny Kadah is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.