HARRISON, N.J. – Brandon Barklage picked a fine time to score his first career MLS goals.
The New York Red Bulls right back registered a first-half brace on Sunday night in a 3-2 win against D.C. United -- the same team that decided not to retain his services during the most recent offseason.
“A lot of emotions rushing through my body,” Barklage told reporters of his feelings after netting the equalizer in the 20th minute. “It was an unbelievable feeling. It was awesome.”
If that goal -- an acrobatic flying effort on a corner kick from teammate Joel Lindpere -- was an unbelievable feeling for him, his second was pure ecstasy.
Barklage scored what is sure to be an MLS Goal-of-the-Week candidate in the final seconds of the first half, giving the Red Bulls a 2-1 lead on a volleyed effort that was smashed past a helpless DC goalkeeper Bill Hamid.
Like his first, the second goal also came off a set piece and Barklage celebrated it with the same intensity, running over to Red Bulls teammate and former United player, Dax McCarty.
“Gassed,” said Barklage of how he felt after that celebratory run that ended with him jumping into McCarty’s arms. “I used all my energy after that second celebration, so the second half was a little rough. It felt unbelievable. It felt like I was on cloud nine or something. I’m just so thankful I’m here and I’m getting an opportunity.”
Getting an opportunity is all Barklage wanted since getting cut by United last winter. He got one thanks to Red Bulls assistant coach Mike Petke, who offered him a trial this past offseason, and Barklage has made the most of it.
“Brandon has been phenomenal [since] the beginning,” Red Bulls manager Hans Backe said. “It looked like a couple of weeks ago he was going to have a dip or something like that. He had a rough game against Chicago, bounced back against Vancouver, and played even in defense very good today.”
While most will point to Barklage’s two goals, his defending also deserves recognition. He helped New York clamp down defensively despite D.C. United cutting the lead to 3-2 in the 66th minute. He had a key diving block on a potential Maicon Santos equalizer from inside the penalty area in the 72nd minute.
For Barklage, this performance was no fluke. He came out with something to prove, hungry and motivated, and it was clear for all to see, especially for those on his former team.
“This is the date that I definitely circled on the calendar,” said Barklage. “I knew I was just going to go out there and give it 110 percent and whatever happened, happened. Thankfully, I got the two goals against an ex-team. It feels unbelievable.”