CARSON, Calif. – During a training session like many others the LA Galaxy have had in 2011, striker Chad Barrett’s season came to a sudden and crushing end.
Barrett dislocated his ankle at the tail end of Thursday’s training session and will not be available for the Galaxy’s final game of the season, the MLS Cup final against the Houston Dynamo. Instead of closing out what has been a strong first season in LA with a chance at a title, Barrett must now recover from an ill-timed freak injury.
“It was such an odd situation, the whole thing,” Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant said. “It was a nothing play. There was no contact. His cleat got stuck in the ground and his leg just rolled over. His foot was not where it was supposed to be. That’s unsettling when you see that.”
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Barrett notched seven goals and five assists on the year, two goals shy of his career high of nine. He overcame a midseason injury and cemented his starting spot in the latter part of the campaign, and he started at forward in all three playoff games.
While there are other players who can fill his role – most notably Adam Cristman and Paolo Cardozo – the injury is a setback to the squad at some level.
“From the team standpoint, he’s been a big part of our playoff run and we’re certainly going to miss him, but we’ve had those things happen all year and we’ve been able to cope with them,” Galaxy captain Landon Donovan said. “I’m sad for him, individually, because he had the chance to play for a championship in front of his home crowd and he’s meant so much to us this year.”
Barrett provided LA with some stability, playing well with midseason addition Robbie Keane and filling in admirably when the Irishman was coping with his own injury concerns. Reunited in the playoffs, Keane and Barrett worked well together to help the Galaxy down both the Red Bulls and Real Salt Lake.
Now, Barrett is out of both MLS Cup and the Galaxy’s postseason tour of Indonesia and the Philippines, although no long-term prognosis has been made, Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said.
When the injury happened, it seemed almost immediately that it was devastating.
“It was such a freak thing,” Dunivant said. “It really took the air out of everyone. We feel so bad for him because he’s had such a good year and has solidified that spot for himself and he deserves to play in the final. We’re gutted for him for that but fortunately we have guys who can step in and do the job. That’s how we have to look at it.”
And though not many positives can be drawn from the situation, the Galaxy are trying to see the silver lining in an otherwise dark cloud.
“I’ve never seen anything like that in person,” Dunivant said. “It was a pretty freak incident, freak play and we feel bad for him. … Fortunately, nothing is broken, it’s just a dislocation. He’ll be okay in the long term.”
Luis Bueno covers the LA Galaxy for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.