Just minutes before game time, Chad Barrett was sitting in the CenturyLink Field press box, finishing a Coke and about to dig into dinner.
Then he got the word: He was being added to the 18-man game roster.
Barrett took the elevator down to the locker room, changed into his uniform and was on the bench as the Sounders conceded a gruesome goal that put rival Los Angeles ahead.
In the 85th minute Barrett was sent onto the pitch, and in stoppage time he scored the goal that ignited the crowd of 56,097 and produced a 1-1 draw.
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“Great ball by (Marco) Pappa, great flick by Brad (Evans),” Barrett said. “We had been putting great balls into the box, and nobody had been crashing. So I was like, ‘Just take a chance.’ I beat my man … just perfect ball right to me. All I had to do was run into it.”
After the game, Seattle defender Zach Scott sought out Barrett to thank him. That’s because the Galaxy’s lone goal followed a conspicuous error by Scott, who had sent a rolling pass across the front of his own goal. The pass was intended for teammate Gonzalo Pineda, but Los Angeles goals leader Robbie Keane swooped onto it just outside the penalty area, touched it into the box and fired past goalkeeper Stefan Frei.
Before the net could stop shaking, Scott had his head in his arms, regretting the decision. But there were the Galaxy celebrating, there was the scoreboard showing the visitors with a 1-0 lead.
“You don’t say anything there,” said Evans, the team captain. “It’s ‘Let’s go.’ Pick the ball out of the net and we carry on. Zach will raise his hand, and that’s it. It’s squash. It’s done. A guy who’s done so much for the club, and a guy who bleeds rave green. You don’t say (anything). You put your head up, you move on, and you get after it.”
The Sounders had several chances before and after — especially after the Galaxy fell into more of a defensive shell. In the 84th minute, Clint Dempsey put a shot on goal, but L.A. keeper Donovan Ricketts made the save. In the 86th minute, Barrett sent a ball from the end line to the front of the goal, where Evans couldn’t quite redirect it in. In stoppage time, Dempsey chipped a shot just over the crossbar.
Finally, the equalizer came: a corner kick from Pappa, touched on by Evans to Barrett.
“We gave up the goal on a mistake, and they punished us for that mistake,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “In the second half, I thought we played very well. That’s what we’ve got to build upon.”
Barrett had gotten onto the roster when designated player Nelson Valdez was scratched after warmups due to a calf strain. That moved Lamar Neagle into Valdez’s spot at midfield, and Barrett into Neagle’s spot on the bench.
“The change was to put Neagle into the lineup and then to bring Barrett away from his hot dog and sodas and bring him down to the locker room,” Schmid said. “So, it’s a good thing we did.”
Scott also was in the lineup due to injury. In this case, both of Seattle’s usual starting central defenders were out — Roman Torres, lost for the season with a knee injury, and Chad Marshall, unavailable after suffering a neck sprain last week in training.
The result moved Los Angeles (14-9-9) back alone atop the Western Conference, and clinched their entry into the playoffs for the seventh straight season. Seattle (14-13-5) remained fifth in the West, four points behind L.A. and three above the playoff cutoff line.
The Sounders are off next weekend before returning into MLS play Oct. 18 at Houston.
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OCT. 18: Seattle at Houston, TBA, ESPN2, 97.3-FM