Chad Barrett has been having a rough year. The kind of year where he injures himself celebrating a goal. The kind of year where he is often left off the 18. The kind of year where some bro keys his car.
For at least a night, though, he'll be the guy who snatched a point when the Seattle Sounders needed one pretty freaking badly.
With time winding down and the Sounders' season about to go into a mild state of panic, again, it was Barrett who put it in the back of the net to secure a 1-1 tie with the LA Galaxy on Sunday.
Barrett's 93rd minute equalizer came about 10 minutes after he entered the match and about two hours after he found out he'd be in the 18. When lineups were first released, Barrett was a scratch. But Nelson Haedo Valdez pulled up with a calf strain in pregame warmups, pushing Lamar Neagle into the starting role and Barrett into the mix.
Barrett made the most of his time. It was his shot across the goal mouth in the 85th minute that gave the Sounders one of their best looks. But it was his run for a deep position on a Marco Pappa corner that paid off.
Pappa sent in a low corner and Brad Evans hit a glancing header to put the ball into a dangerous position. Barrett was there, getting his knee on the ball and immediately ran to the crowd, jumping onto the ad boards and becoming enveloped in a sea of hugging arms as he basked in the glory.
While a point was two fewer than the Sounders had hoped to get from this match in front of 56,097 fans, it did move them three clear of seventh place and gives them just a little more breathing room as they'll have the tiebreaker over virtually anyone they are battling.
Until those final moments, it was shaping up as a particularly frustrating night.
Robbie Keane broke the deadlock in the 36th minute. Zach Scott, who had plenty of time to pass, opted for a one touch pass toward the middle of the field, apparently unaware of Keane. It was hit too far behind Gonzalo Pineda to catch up to and Keane was able to win it with relative ease. Keane took one touch to control and fired it past Stefan Frei before the goalkeeper had any time to come off his line.
It was about as easy of a goal as Keane has ever scored, gave the Galaxy a massive boost and allowed them to overcome a couple wonderful chances they had failed to convert. Frei had come up with one huge save, stopping Robbie Rogers on a well-worked give and go and Steven Gerrard had put an open look from the top of the area over the crossbar.
The Sounders, too, had their chances to both take the lead and equalize. The best chance came in the 6th minute when Obafemi Martins put Clint Dempsey clean in on goal. But Ricketts was able to slide over to cut off the angle and Dempsey put his shot right into the goalkeeper's rib cage.
Martins created another chance about midway through the second half, finding Andreas Ivanschitz in a wide position. Ivanschitz controlled, but was unable to do much with the tight-angled chance.
- There's a very easy explanation for why Barrett was originally left off the 18: He's not been very good this year. Sure, this was his fifth goal, but he's gone through long spells of complete ineffectiveness. Still, he's got a bit of a knack for these late goals. He got the stoppage-time winner against the New York Red Bulls earlier this year and there was that 95th minute goal in last year's season-opener against Sporting KC. He's a guy worth having around, it appears.
- A win would have basically clinched a playoff spot and kept the Sounders in contention for a top 2 spot in the West. But the closeness of this playoff race is such that a loss would have left the Sounders just two points clear of the red line, meaning one loss could knock them out. This point at least keeps a home playoff game in the first round a distinct possibility.
- This was not the total first-choice team for the Sounders, but the Galaxy had all their key parts. Let's not forget that the Sounders were the better team in the second half, out shooting the Galaxy 10-2 in the those 45 minutes. The Galaxy, let's not forget, are leading the West and tied for most points in the league. The Galaxy, let's not forget, are really good (even if they aren't as good on the road). This is a reminder that the Sounders can play with anyone, even when they are missing a couple key parts.