CARSON, Calif. – Chad Barrett could see he was surplus to the LA Galaxy's needs, with Landon Donovan's return to the forward line, Edson Buddle's impending return from knee surgery and a hefty contract that expires at year's end.
He'd nearly signed in Norway four years ago, and when the opportunity arose earlier this month to make a midseason move to Vålerenga, this time he said yes.
The 27-year-old striker departs on Wednesday on a half-year loan to the Oslo-based club, which has an option to buy, and he's looking forward to the challenge while ruing that he'll no longer be part of the MLS Cup champions’ title defense.
“I love this team, I love all of the guys on this team,” Barrett said Tuesday morning following his final training session with the Galaxy. “Even when I was gone on my trial for a week, I missed the guys like crazy.
“But at the same time, it was something I needed to do for me personally. The guys who are playing, they're on fire here, but we're real deep at forward, and I kind of wanted to see what else was out there.”
Barrett, who last year joined the Galaxy after three-and-a-half years with Chicago and two-and-a-half with Toronto FC, has made just seven starts in 18 league appearances this season, with a goal and three assists, numbers he acknowledges show he “didn't produce as well as I should have.”
He scored eight goals with six assists in all competitions last year, tallying seven times in 27 MLS regular-season and three playoff appearances, 23 of them in the starting XI. He missed MLS Cup 2011 with a badly dislocated foot.
“Good loan opportunity for him,” said Galaxy coach Bruce Arena. “It all remains to be seen [what happens at the end of the loan], but it's an opportunity for him that we felt it was important to support him on this.”
Vålerenga sit sixth in the top-tier Tippeligaen with a 7-6-4 record and 13 matches left on the schedule. They are five points out of third place, which gets Norway's final Europa Cup berth.
Barrett, who could debut Friday at Haugesand but is likelier to see his first action in Sunday's friendly against Manchester United or a Aug. 10 league match with Odd Grenland, says it was a “almost a coin flip” four years ago between Toronto FC and Vålerenga.
“I think I just wasn't mature enough and ready to go overseas and live on my own and accept a four-year deal there,” he said. “It was too much at the time.”
Now he's ready. What do Vålerenga want from Barrett?
“Goals,” he said. “Put the ball in the back of the net. They're pretty upbeat about me coming there. ... It's going to be an interesting experience. But I've moved every three years of my life, so I'm used to it. I take it as a new adventure.”