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For Luis Barraza, It’s Finally a Chance To Shine. But He Has One More Challenge To Overcome First.

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Jun 22, 2022; Harrison, NJ, United States; New York City FC goalkeeper Luis Barraza (13) reacts for the ball in front of defender Alexander Callens (6) during the first half against the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

As a player it often sucks to be a perennial backup. You work tirelessly from childhood, logging thousands of hours in practice, conditioning & study and after all that effort, you reach the top. Only to be relegated to the bench. For years, goalkeeper Luis Barraza has been one of those players with the New York City Football Club, seldom seeing playing time due to primary goalkeeper and team captain Sean Johnson being the workhorse for the team. Now, with Johnson having departed for Toronto, Barraza, who admitted frustration at the lack of playing chances (he’s 26 and has 5 games in the past 4 years) finally has a chance to shine.

But of course, for Barraza, the path naturally won’t come easy. During the offseason, the club signed Philadelphia Union backup goalkeeper Matt Freese, a slightly younger player who studied under one of the leagues OTHER best goalies in Andre Blake. Taking a quick look at the two:

Luis Barazza26 years old6’2”194lbs5 career MLS starts5 goals allowed58.3% save percentage
Matt Freese24 years old6’3”194lbs14 career MLS starts19 goals allowed66.7% save percentage

On paper, Freese has the edge, but Barazza has been in the system longer. As head coach Nick Cushing put it, “Matt didn’t come here to be a #2,” but admitted that, at least for the moment, Luis has the edge. With the regular season underway in under a week, Cushing has yet to tip his hand, but gave the final exhibition start to Barazza yesterday, a 1-0 late goal loss to Portland in a (quasi) rematch of the MLS Finals 2 seasons ago.

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At this point, it’s uncertain who the stand out is going to be and anything can change in the final days leading up to the season opener in Nashville. One this is for certain, whoever gets tapped as the starter will know the backup will be ready to take that job from them. Going to be interesting.

About the author – Scott Churchson has been an actor in every way for the past 13 years, from BG to stand in to stunts and principal, a sports writer for the past 4 and is one of the people that created Stream Punk Entertainment. He’s married to a veterinarian, has a cat with three working legs and is just a simple man trying to make his way in the universe.

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