Danny Barrera scored two in the First Round | Photo: PSA Elite
The 22-year-old Danny Barrera may be looking for a second chance. There is probably no better place to look for an example than the very team his two goals helped beat in the First Round, earning him TheCup.us Player of the Round honors for Cal FC’s 3-1 road win against the reigning PDL champion Kitsap Pumas.
The Player of the Round award is voted on by the staff of the definitive US Open Cup site TheCup.us and a select panel of members of the North American Soccer Reporters, which also selects the MLS Player of the Week.
Barrera scored the club’s first two goals in the contest, firing a low shot that the goalkeeper was unable to handle and ended up putting it into his own net trying to collect it. This gave the visitors the advantage a minute before the break.. The second goal came in the 66th minute when he twisted past a defender to double the advantage with what proved to be the game-winner.
Over the last five years Barrera has flirted with breaking through to the next level, playing for the United States at the 2007 Pan-American Games as well as briefly being a member of the U17 and U18 National Teams in the residency program. After finishing school at UC Santa Barbara, where he helped the Gauchos win the 2006 NCAA title, he went to Europe, signing with Serbian first division club FK Spartak Zlatibor Voda.
One great story of getting a second chance this past year, which actually made headlines these past few weeks, came through Kitsap, a team Barrera knows well. As a member of the PDL Ventura County Fusion, he helped lead the California club to the league championship in 2009 with a 2-1 win over the Pumas in the conference final, tallying an assist on the opening goal in the match held in Laredo, Texas.
That story is of goalkeeper Bryan Meredith, who stayed in the Seattle area after being drafted by the Sounders but going unsigned. He guided Kitsap to the PDL championship with an 11-1-3 record, nine shutouts and .535 goals-against average in goal. When the Sounders lost a back-up to injury last year, they added Meredith to the squad. He proved himself in training and at the beginning of the month when starter Michael Gspurning came out at halftime with a hip injury, Meredith made his MLS debut to finish the match for a shutout win against the Los Angeles Galaxy. He then went on to shutout Philadelphia and Dallas in the next two games.
With three professional clubs in the greater Los Angeles area and the contacts of Eric Wynalda, it not unreasonable to think a similar opportunity is within reach for Barrera.