Defender Wade Barrett has officially ended his playing career and opted to take a position as an assistant coach with the Houston Dynamo, the club announced Thursday.
Over a near 12-year career -- including four seasons with Houston -- the left back and team captain has been a consummate professional.
“I wouldn’t say I have mixed feelings,” Barrett told MLSsoccer.com. “I have been very lucky to have a good long career and lucky to have played under this coaching staff and with this group of guys. These last couple of years have been the most rewarding of my career and have provided some of the best experiences of my life.
“None of that goes away,” he continued. “I’m just stepping into the next phase of my career and I am super-excited for the opportunity to have more fantastic experiences on the soccer field, but just in a different way.”
Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear spoke glowingly of his now former left back for the career that Barrett put together.
“He got the most out of his ability because of the way he prepared himself and readied himself for every game,” noted Kinnear. “There’s no better picture that I’ve seen than having him there holding up MLS Cup and I was happy he was able to do that for us. The ultimate captain, a great person and he was a great communicator between the players and coaches. Very level-headed and selfless and that is what made him such a great captain.”
Barrett’s career includes three MLS Cups titles and two caps for the U.S. national team. Most of those 12 years have been in MLS and he played in 262 MLS regular-season and playoff games, starting in a remarkable 255.
In 2002, Barrett was named to the MLS All-Star team for the first time and was selected as a member of the MLS Best XI. While with Houston, Barrett played in 99 MLS regular-season games and an additional 11 playoff games, but also represented the Dynamo in numerous international competitions. Now, he says, he’s not disappointed to end his career, but upbeat with his new challenge in the coaching ranks.
“This has always been something that I have been interested in,” he noted. “I am just lucky Dom has given me the opportunity to join his staff as I have a lot of respect for them as coaches. If I was going to move into a coaching position, I would want that first step to be in an environment and with coaches that I have a lot of respect for and Dom has given me that opportunity and I am excited about it.”
While Kinnear previously had discussions with Barrett regarding that possibility in the offseason, Barrett’s frequent attendance at reserve games two years ago seemed to be a starting point to potentially transitioning coaching one day. However, Barrett rejected the notion that it had anything to do with wanting to someday coach and in so doing provided more a testament to the type of teammate he was and insight into why he was selected as the team’s captain.
“Being involved with those guys had nothing to do with coaching,” he said. “That was a Dynamo game whether it was a first-team game or reserve game and I just wanted to lend my support to the guys playing.”
One of the side benefits to Barrett’s transitioning to the coaching staff is that it will allow him more free time to follow one of his passions, running.
“I am very interested in pursuing my running career also, so I entered a half marathon and 50K and did that in the offseason,” he noted. “I am also going to sign up for some races and I will be doing that over the course of the season.
“I looked into getting my B license in the offseason, but I had a couple of races come up that conflicted with that. When I did do those races, it showed me that I still have a competitive desire, but this gives me the opportunity to put some of that competitive desire towards coaching and some towards races.”
As for Kinnear, he’s hopeful Barrett’s work ethic and competitive desire will make him as successful a coach as he was a player.
“I wanted to thank Chris [Canetti] and Oliver [Luck] for allowing me to ask Wade to be a part of our staff and to make that available to him,” said the coach. “It’s something that he showed an interest in and he’s just started. We’re happy for him and hopefully he makes a great career of this like he has made as a player.”