It’s been a busy couple of months for the athletes of the Class of 2012.
Joining pitcher Vince Voiro, who was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 15th round of the MLB draft and offensive lineman Greg Van Roten, who recently signed with the Green Bay Packers, former soccer star Christian Barreiro signed with the Puerto Rican Islanders, a North American League soccer squad.
A four-year starter, Barreiro scored 20 goals and had 18 assists in his 71 games wearing the Red and Blue.
“It’s been great so far,” said the two-time first team All-Ivy selection. “I signed with the Islanders, flew down here, found a place with a couple of new signees, and we basically started training with the team right away.”
The NASL includes teams from the Caribbean, the United States, and Canada. Barreiro said one of the main reasons he’s excited to play with the Islanders is the diversity of competition.
The Islanders are currently third in the league with a 9-4-6 record, behind the 10-3-6 Tampa Bay Rowdies and the 10-5-3 San Antonio Scorpions.
This latest step in Barreiro’s career came after an invitation to the MLS Combine in January following a particularly impressive senior campaign with the Quakers. Barreiro led the team in goals (7), assists, (7), shots on goal (64) and shooting percentage (.109). He is also currently fifth on Penn’s all-time career points list with 58 and sixth all-time for assists.
After the combine, Barreiro was picked up by the New York Red Bulls, but was cut from their roster in early February.
“That was discouraging, but I just had to look for another team to play for,” Barreiro said. He then tried out for the Harrisburg City Islanders and the Minnesota Stars, but he “didn’t really have the right opportunities with either of those teams.”
Barreiro’s next step was to play for the Baltimore Bohemians.
In his 13 games with the Bohemians, Barreiro had three goals and seven assists in 999 minutes of playing time. He had the second-highest number of goals on the entire active roster, second only to forward Kingsley Onwuka’s five.
“I played a good 13 games with them, but I was still in constant contact with my agent, and in early July he said he’d been talking with the PR Islanders,” Barreiro said. “Everything looked pretty promising, and after a few more negotiations I signed and then everything happened really quickly.”
Barreiro is now in his third week of training and so far, he said, everything has been going “really, really well.”
The Islanders have two more months left in their season, and though Barreiro has not yet seen playing time in a game, he thinks his opportunity may be coming soon.
“Some of the other guys are going on international duty to play for their home countries, so that could be my chance to step up,” he said.
For now, though, Barreiro is content to practice hard and learn from his teammates.
“The speed of play is different here, and it’s a very physical game, he said. “I’m a rookie, so I’m just trying to watch what some of the older guys are doing.”
Up next for the Islanders is the Confederation of North, Central and Caribbean Association Football championship. The Islanders open play against El Salvador’s Isidro Metapan. Barreiro said CONACAF play is “what everyone has on their mind.”
Barreiro’s hope is “just to make an impact” for the team, and his unfailing optimism will certainly be helpful as he looks to help the Islanders win a championship.
Like Voiro and Van Roten, Barreiro said that while it’s not easy to go from Penn to the big leagues, persistence is the key to making it.
“It takes a little bit of luck, it takes experience, it takes maturity and you’ve got to seize your chance when you see it,” Barreiro said. “You can’t just put your head down, you have to keep trying and plugging away until you get there. And if it doesn’t work out in one place, you have to try another.”