TUCSON, Ariz. – Chad Barrett just wants to play soccer.
The 27-year-old forward was selected by the New England Revolution in the first round of the Stage 2 Re-Entry Draft almost two months ago, but protracted contract talks kept his signing from becoming official until Monday afternoon. Now that he’s put pen to paper, Barrett can’t wait to get back to work.
“This is what I do,” Barrett said after training with his new club on Tuesday morning in Tucson. “It took way longer than I wanted it to, but now that it’s here, now that I can just get back to playing soccer, that’s really all I care about. I’m looking forward to helping New England finish a little higher in the standings this year and get in the playoffs again.”
Barrett’s first order of business is regaining his fitness. Not only did he miss the first three weeks of preseason training with the Revolution, but a recent illness left Barrett bedridden for almost two weeks, stunting the progression he’d been making with his own workouts.
“I’ve got to get back in shape,” Barrett admitted. “Unfortunately I caught a nasty bug and it kind of killed any fitness that I had, so I have to get fit again … That’s first and foremost. I’m going to get in with (strength and conditioning coach) Nick Downing, make sure I get my fitness up and then the soccer always just tends to follow after the fitness.”
While Barrett has a bit of catching up to do in the fitness department, he won’t need any time to adapt to MLS. Formerly with the Chicago Fire, Toronto FC and LA Galaxy, Barrett is a veteran who knows the ins and outs of most defenses in this league, which is a key quality for head coach Jay Heaps.
“We expect him to jump right in,” said Heaps. “He knows the league, he knows guys on every team and that’s important.”
Barrett’s experience in MLS led him into the occasional on-field encounter with Heaps, particularly when they played on opposite sides of the heated Revolution-Fire rivalry. As a forward, Barrett had many an individual battle with Heaps, who learned firsthand just how much of a hassle Barrett is to defend.
Although the relationship has now changed, the mutual respect remains. But Barrett knows it’s now probably in his best interests to limit the elbows and shoves he used to aim at his new head coach.
“We’re not going to be doing any more eye-gouging or pushing or cheap shots, that’s for sure. Well, at least not on my side. I can’t get away with it like I used to,” Barrett said with a laugh. “We as players just want to make sure that we give everything that we have, follow [Jay’s] instructions, play to the best of our abilities and really try to put New England back on the map as a team that’s always in contention for the playoffs and always in contention for MLS Cup.”