The seed was planted nearly a decade ago.
Chad Barrett had been the third pick in the MLS SuperDraft out of UCLA in the lead-up to the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship when he found the path to minutes blocked by Indiana standout Jacob Peterson.
Sigi Schmid was coach of the United States under-20 national team and laid out the terms to his young striker.
“He was one of the first coaches I played with that was always straight with me,” Barrett said. “Even back then, even when I wasn’t a starter.
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“He told me to keep working hard and if I did, I’d get my shot with him.”
Schmid lived up to his word, and Barrett scored the lone goal in the United States’ group stage win against eventual champion Argentina and its young striker Lionel Messi.
Barrett recalled the experience this past offseason, when he was put in the familiar position of having to prove himself after scoring just three league goals in 2012 and 2013 combined for Los Angeles and New England. Barrett twice entered the MLS re-entry draft before Seattle scooped him up last December.
“I just needed somebody to give me a chance when I dislocated my ankle two years back,” Barrett said. “It just didn’t seem like there was a lot of faith in me by my coaches.
“The biggest thing was finding a coach that had that faith in me. I knew from the get-go that Sigi was that guy.”
That trust is once again being paid back in goals.
The 29-year-old has matched his MLS career high with seven and has scored four in Seattle’s past four games — the third of which was his milestone 50th in the league.
“When you’re scoring goals, the goal always looks a little bit bigger,” Barrett said.
Barrett was far from Seattle’s only veteran acquisition this past offseason.
Defender Chad Marshall arrived from Columbus and former Fire midfielder Marco Pappa returned to the league after a few years in the Netherlands. Gonzalo Pineda has added bite to the midfield and Kenny Cooper has provided yet another option up top.
“You know they’re confident going into a game situation,” Schmid said. “You know they’ve been on the field in big games and tough situations before. … You don’t have to worry about, ‘Is he going to be nervous? How’s he going to react to the crowd? How is he going to react to the pressure of the game?’
“They’re a little bit hardened.”
Even after his recent hot streak, Barrett knows where he stands on the depth chart.
“When you’ve got two of the starting all-stars (Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins) on your team, it’s hard to voice, ‘Hey, I should be starting over them,’ ” Barrett said.
But just like at that long-ago training camp, Barrett is looking for a shot. And once again, he’s living up to his old coach’s trust.
“I always thought he and I understood each other,” Schmid said.