By Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER – Chad Barrett credits former teammate Carl Robinson with teaching him how to stay cool under pressure.
Now the head coach of the Whitecaps, Robinson might have been regretting some of those lessons on Saturday after Barrett scored his first two goals of the season in clinical fashion as the Seattle Sounders defeated Vancouver 2-0.
Robinson was a veteran player with Toronto FC in 2008 when the club acquired Barrett, who admits now he had a lot to learn from the no-nonsense midfielder.
“I was cocky kid when I was younger,” said Barrett, now 30. “I thought I knew it all, but I still had a mental problem when it came to dealing with my emotions. Carl’s one of those guys who is very calm and collected.
“He taught me that everything you can do, you can do from a peaceful state and you can still play as hard as you want to. That’s always been his thing.”
Starting in place of the injured Obafemi Martins, Barrett showed a poise in front of the goal that he rarely displayed during his time in Toronto, exposing the host’s defence twice in the first half as the Sounders (6-3-1) beat their regional rivals for the first time in six tries.
“The catch-22 of being a professional soccer player is you learn to play the game as you get older,” said Barrett. “Then as you get older, you can’t play anymore. You try to find that perfect combination of experience, age and skill.”
Barrett opened his account in the fourth minute, taking a pass from Clint Dempsey and moving in alone on Vancouver goalkeeper David Ousted to silence the raucous crowd at B.C. Place Stadium.
The Whitecaps (6-4-2) had a couple chances to get back in it, including a great finger-tips save from Seattle’s Stefan Frei, immediately after the goal before the Sounders settled into the game.
Barrett doubled the lead in the 38th minute when Vancouver defender Kendall Waston failed to close him down. The striker took advantage of the opening and fired a shot far post on Ousted prior to celebrating in front of Seattle’s travelling fans for the second time in just over a half hour.
“Credit to Chad. That’s two super finishes,” said Robinson. “The second was a fantastic finish with his left foot.”
Playing time has been scarce for Barrett behind Martins and Dempsey, but he had a meeting with Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid a few weeks ago asking for an opportunity.
“I just said: ‘I know you’ve lost your faith in me, but give it back to me and I’ll reward you,'” said Barrett.
The Whitecaps tried to push back after halftime, but couldn’t find a way past Frei â€” another ex-teammate of Robinson’s at TFC â€” as Seattle’s defence rebounded following a 3-2 road loss to the Columbus Crew last weekend.
“It’s probably our best performance overall,” said Frei, who made five saves for his fifth shutout. “I thought we were very efficient and in control offensively and defensively at all times.”
Seattle, which has made the playoffs every year since entering Major League Soccer and won the 2014 Supporters’ Shield, now trails Vancouver by a single point in the Western Conference standings with two games in hand.
“We wanted to let people know that we’re still here, that we haven’t disappeared,” said Schmid. “The road still goes through Seattle, whenever possible.”
The Whitecaps came in with four wins and a draw against the Sounders over their last five meetings, including a 1-0 victory at CenturyLink Field last season that clinched Vancouver’s second straight Cascadia Cup â€” the regional mini-tournament the teams compete for along with the Portland Timbers.
But after Saturday, the Sounders now have the upper hand in both the league and the race for bragging rights in the Pacific Northwest.
“It’s a massive win,” said Barrett. “Everything about this rings awesome in the ears.”
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