TFC grin and Barett

STEVE SANDOR, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:09 PM ET

Wonder if anyone in Chicago is noticing what Chad Barrett is doing for Toronto FC this season?

His goal was the winner in TFCs 2-1 win over Chivas USA. It was his ninth in all competitions, and it came on the heels of his massive goal Tuesday in Honduras, the second road goal which insured TFC would get past CD Motagua in its CONCACAF Champions League qualifier.

He isnt just scoring a lot of goals, hes scoring key goals.

It has been just a little more than two years since Barrett was sent by the Fire to Toronto in exchange for the rights to Brian McBride, the veteran American star who was allocated to TFC after he announced he wanted to leave the English Premiership. McBride wanted to play out the final years of his career in the Windy City but TFC was at the top of the allocation list when he left Fulham. A deal was eventually worked out.

Until this season, TFC director of soccer Mo Johnston was criticized; if Chicago wanted McBride so badly, why didnt Johnston hold out for more?

Barrett, who scored just nine times in his first season and a half with the Reds, was criticized for missing too many chances, for not having a strikers killer instinct. Fans groaned when he left games with cramps in his legs.

Barrett missed all of the pre-season and the first two games of the season as he recovered from surgery to his right foot. He was out of sight and almost out of mind.

Now, the tables are turned. Barrett is a fan favourite. He is willing to go wide. He is running at defenders. Hes creating space for the other attackers. When Dwayne De Rosario or Maicon Santos scores a goal, many times its because Barrett has taken a defender wide, creating space for his teammates.

I know he has more in him, Preki, TFCs coach said of Barrett. Thats the funny part about it. He has a lot of talent.

While Preki was impressed with Barretts goal, the fact that his striker missed another clear chance after he steered the ball between two defenders shows that there is still work to be done.

Barrett said the difference in 2010 has been maturity; he admitted that, in previous seasons, when he got hot and scored a few times, I was always letting it get to my head.

He knows that this is a special season.

Im just being as opportunistic a forward as I should be ... Its just settling yourself in front of goal being disciplined, being composed.

And while he had that zen on his goal on Saturday, he lost it on the other clear chance he scuffed wide. Preki said it was a matter of taking a breath, realizing that, as a forward, you have some time, and making the simple finish. No rush. No panic.

Ask Chivas striker Justin Braun about having confidence in front of goal. Braun had three point-blank chances to score; two were saved by TFCs Stefan Frei one was a great reflex stop, while the other was a case of Frei collecting a shanked attempt on goal. Braun also sent an open header wide.

Strikers dont get a ton of chances, so their success rate needs to be high.

And, what of the man whose rights TFC sent to Chicago? McBride, is having an OK season for a Fire team that has struggled he has four goals so far this season.

So, when do fans start admitting that Johnston actually fleeced the Fire?

steven.sandor@sunmedia.ca


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