When lineups were announced prior to Wednesday's clash with Real Salt Lake, most New England Revolution fans were focused on the return of Andrew Farrell to the XI, or on Scott Caldwell's start in midfield. The front five remained unchanged from the previous two matches, and it wasn't something noteworthy to most.
But perhaps it was to some.
Apparently-estranged veteran striker Chad Barrett had some...interesting tweets in the very early going on Wednesday night, starting with these little gems:
100% HEALTHY....and ready to play. RSL tonight at Gillette stadium @8pm EST— Chad Barrett (@CBarrett19) May 8, 2013
Indeed, Barrett wasn't listed on the injury report leading up to the game. Apparently he'd recovered from the hamstring complaint that has been keeping him from making his fourth appearance of the 2013 season, and he wanted to make sure everyone knew about it. Assumedly, that's because he was miffed at being left out of the match day squad.
To be fair, he wasn't the only one who doesn't have an apparent explanation for not being dressed. Kalifa Cisse was subbed off halfway through the Portland match, and we all figured it was for an injury. He wasn't in the report before the RSL game, though, and yet he didn't find his way into the game day 18 at all. The tweets could have been innocuous.
So maybe Barrett was just letting us all know that he's ready and raring to go if called on. That's fine. Then, Jerry Bengtson attempted to round Nick Rimando in the third minute, but instead of trying to take the shot himself with Rimando sprawled on the ground, he hesitated, and a promising early move came to nothing.
Barrett had something to say about that:
You miss 100% of the shots u don't take— Chad Barrett (@CBarrett19) May 9, 2013
Now it looks like Chad's a little upset. Maybe complaining about someone else not scoring is the wrong approach for Barrett to take - his MLS goalscoring record speaks for itself in a manner he might not exactly appreciate - but it doesn't make him any less right in that situation. It also doesn't mean he's going to be any less frustrated when he's in the crowd watching a direct competitor for minutes put in a poor performance on the pitch.
Who could blame him if he's angry? He was signed as a re-entry draft pick to a contract that gave him a $143,000-plus pay cut, brought from a perennial championship contender to a struggling team swirling with doubts and concerns, and he's struggled with injuries and illness since arriving. The only time he's received is two garbage-time substitutions, and one start in a match against Kansas City where he was expected to thanklessly chase the ball and get the tar kicked out of him while the rest of the team did their level best to maintain a scoreless draw. And even that was for just 64 minutes.
Honestly, Barrett's role on this team is becoming an enigma. He's obviously seen as a bulldog-type forward who can play the target man, battle with defenders, and create space and chances for others. He'd be great in a 4-4-2 or similar dual-forward alignment; exactly the sort of formation the Revs have not played in 2013. Furthermore, now that he's healthy and still not getting into the squad on game day, he's essentially a six-figure-paid scout player. If it doesn't make sense to us, it can't make much sense to him, either, and you can't blame him for that at all.
It also makes you wonder if the team is starting to get impatient with Jerry Bengtson. The last tweet may have been a general statement, but there's no ignoring the fact that Bengtson has been very disappointing this season, and when a striker behind him in the depth chart makes comments like that, it's going to be taken as a "why him and not me?" situation.
I've already noted before that it's starting to look as though the team is playing around Bengtson in some situations instead of with him, like they've written him off as a viable attacking option. Could Barrett's comments be indicative of a wider dissatisfaction with the Honduran striker in the locker room?
Barrett was supportive of his teammates via Twitter through the rest of the match, so none of this is to suggest that he's a poor team player. It's just worth noting his frustration.