Christian Barreiro has found a home quite a bit away from home.
Barreiro, the former two-time All-Ivy striker/midfielder for Penn soccer, just finished the season with his new team, the Puerto Rico Islanders.
The Islanders finished third in the North American Soccer League with 41 points, just behind San Antonio and Tampa Bay. The NASL is considered to be a Division II league, below Major League Soccer.
Puerto Rico was the third team Barreiro has played with this year. Barreiro signed with the squad on July 25, shortly after his season with the Baltimore Bohemians ended, and after his tenure with the New York Red Bulls. New York signed him with the 50th pick in the 2012 MLS draft.
There was one major difference between the Islanders and former squads Barreiro played for: location.
Puerto Rico might be part of the United States, but for someone who went to college barely 100 miles from home — a short drive up I-95 from Baltimore — flying down to play in the Caribbean was quite a change. While Barreiro doesn’t live in Puerto Rico full time, he did reside there during the regular season.
“It was a big decision for me,” Barreiro said. “But I think that it was a very positive decision. It was great going down there.”
He noted that he gleaned a lot of experience on the Islanders, as he saw playing styles “from all different countries.”
As a rookie in the NASL, Barreiro only recorded 184 minutes of playing time. However, the team showed that it increasingly trusted him as the season progressed.
He logged his first appearance on Aug. 12, two and a half weeks after signing with the club. Almost a month later, he had his first professional start, as his team visited and tied the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.
Just two weeks ago, he played in his CONCACAF Champions League debut. CONCACAF refers to the governing body of North American, Caribbean and Central American soccer.
The host Islanders won, 3-0, defeating El Salvador’s Isidro Metapan.
“It was a great experience, great group of guys,” Barreiro said. “I think our team had a good chemistry on and off the field.
“I felt we really clicked well together. It helps you in the long-run to continue to improve.”
Barreiro has since returned home, following the last game of the season — a 2-1 loss to Minnesota. He has been training in his hometown of Baltimore and has yet to work out his full offseason regimen.
Being away and playing professionally has not eroded Barreiro’s ties to Penn.
“I have a lot of Penn pride,” he said. “I’m still very focused on the Penn community.”
Barreiro’s commitment to Penn can still be seen in his day-to-day interactions. In a tweet about his CONCACAF debut, he added, “Trying my best to represent the Ivy League!” Barreiro also mentioned that he hopes to travel to Rhodes Field to watch his alma mater and former squad.
While he visits Penn, he may reminisce about his former team, but he’ll also be looking forward.
“Overall, I was very happy with what went on in Puerto Rico,” Barreiro said. “Hopefully as I move on with my career, I can have more experiences like that.”