June 24, 2012
Barklage could not ask for a better game against his former club, United
By Kristian R. Dyer
|Brandon Barklage: “It took four years but it feels unbelievable to do it against a team that told me at the end of the year last year that I couldn’t cut it there."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
BigAppleSoccer.com Contributing Editor
HARRSION, N.J. – For former D.C. United defender Brandon Barklage, Sunday night’s performance against his old club was a bit of vindication.
Before joining the Red Bulls this offseason, Barklage played 439 minutes over the course of three seasons with D.C. United, making just 11 appearances during that span. Sunday night represented Barklage’s 11th game in his first half season in New York, marking the occasion with two first half goals to propel New York to the 3-2 derby win.
“It took four years but it feels unbelievable to do it against a team that told me at the end of the year last year that I couldn’t cut it there,” Barklage said.
As important as those goals were on Sunday night, Barklage’s most important play of the evening came in the 72nd minute when he made a sprawling tackle to prevent from Maicon Santos from getting an open shot on New York’s goal. For a player on an obvious high from the first two goals of his MLS career, it was an inspired piece of defense.
“An unbelievable feeling for the guy - you can’t help but look at his story and feel great. I’m going to take a little bit of credit for that. I gave him a little bit of a pep talk before the game,” midfielder Dax McCarty said.
“What a performance for him. I know it is a little bit of vindication for him especially the way he was released from D.C. He comes from two ACL injuries and he comes back to [be] man of the match for us tonight.”
After the match, United head coach Ben Olsen teased about Barklage’s striking prowess that if he had seen that side of the player “I would have never let him go.”
“There’s a lot of history in D.C. for me, I have a lot of ties there. Kudos to them, they’re having a great year,” Barklage said.
“Luckily they didn’t come here and get a point or three points. We’re just happy as a team that we came away with three.”
It has been a remarkable ride for a player who, this time last year, was a role player.
Barklage stepped into the Starting XI in late April in a 1-0 home win over New England, cementing himself as the team’s right back despite having rarely played there while with United. A winger when he came to New York, coach Hans Backe brought Barklage into the club this winter on trial as “a sub for Solli.”
Now, he’s more than just depth as Barklage is an integral part of the club.
“To be honest, the last couple games I haven’t played at my best potential, the last two games," Barklage said. "Today I picked it up a little bit; it has been only eight to 10 games at that position for me.
“There’s a lot of improvement I need to work on, such as getting forward and defensively. So far I’m very happy with how the year is going for me.”
Follow BigAppleSoccer.com’s Kristian R. Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer