Frequent contributor Jon Marthaler has written about virtually every sport in the Twin Cities, and fills in on Saturdays for the RandBall blog on He'll cover the professional soccer scene in the Twin Cities, whether at the Metrodome or at the National Sports Center.

Email Jon to talk about soccer.

Etienne Barbara: Frustrated with MLS, ready to score in Minnesota

Posted by: Jon Marthaler under Soccer Updated: April 3, 2013 - 11:38 AM

When Minnesota announced that it had signed the past two North American Soccer League leading scorers, fans might have rushed to the league website to find out just how many goals the team would be getting. There atop the 2012 scoring leaderboard was Pablo Campos, who scored 20 goals in San Antonio. Nowhere to be found, though, was Etienne Barbara, the other half of the dynamic duo; the striker didn't play in the NASL in 2012.

Barbara scored 20 goals for the NASL's Carolina Railhawks in 2011, and hoped that the season would be a springboard to success in Major League Soccer. But he endured a frustrating offseason issue with the strange "discovery rights" system in MLS, as Montreal neither wanted to pay him nor allow him to sign with another team. And when he finally did secure a move to Vancouver, to reunite with Carolina head coach Martin Rennie, he ended up beset by injuries, and made only two appearances.

If you think his frustration with the MLS system has subsided, think again. "One thing that I prefer in NASL is that at least they don't treat you just like a piece of merchandise," he says. "Because that's what MLS is. First you cannot negotiate your contract, you have to sign for four years. And then they can tell you to go home after six months. So that doesn't make sense. That's very disrespectful for a player. At least in NASL, they treat you better."

As someone who's been on both sides of the divide between the two leagues, he's also able to compare the two to each other - and he thinks they're not that far apart. "Obviously in MLS they have a lot better facilities, a lot more accessibility to higher end stuff," he says. "But hopefully the level of the NASL will grow, especially now that teams like Minnesota has a private owner and the New York Cosmos are in the league. We're expecting the level to go up."

"If [the NASL] really wants to push for high-end stuff, I believe that it can match up with the MLS. Most of the difference in MLS is made by the designated players [overseas or higher-paid stars, of which each team can have only a limited number]. You take out most of the DP players - I mean, we beat the Chicago Fire. That shows that even though we have not started the season, and they started their full team, we can still match their style of play."

Barbara is also excited to resume playing with Campos. The two scored 32 goals put together in Carolina in 2011, so they're quite familiar with each other - something that even Barbara can't quite explain. " That's a very good question," he says thoughtfully. "I guess he has what I don't have, and I have what he doesn't have. He's a tall target player. I try to be more mobile around him. We understand what kind of runs we like for each other and what kind of runs we try to give for each other. We combine very good together - I don't know how it happens."

Maybe it's just the accumulation of time that does it. The two have filmed a goofy promo video together and are rooming together for this year's season, and Barbara thinks that helps their game. "This is why we spend time together and everything, because we always try to stay on the same page," he says. "That's a bonus for us, to be able to do that, you know?"

Now, it's mostly a question of getting back to full fitness. The 30-year-old admits that his game has suffered from his lack of playing time in the past year, and knows that with the new league structure, he can't afford to start slowly. Says Barbara, "I am now playing [in Minnesota], but... I don't believe it's fair that the team that comes sixth in the overall league [as Minnesota did in 2011 and 2012] has a shot at the championship. Now we're facing a structure that every point counts and you cannot say, ah, I'm just going to be with the first six and I'll push it for the championship. Every point counts. Everything on the table is very important. "

And as far as judging success, he's using a rather simple criteria. "We have an owner that has invested this kind of money, and he wants to see results", he says. "And when he is happy, we are all happy. So we try to make him happy."


San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner 8 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: E. Volquez 0
Minnesota 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington 1 FINAL
Buffalo 6
Carolina 3 FINAL
Columbus 6
Pittsburgh 2 FINAL
Detroit 0
Montreal 3 FINAL
Chicago 1
Arizona 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Fla Atlantic 6:00 PM
UCF 6:00 PM
Arizona 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton 10/10/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa 10/11/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia





question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings do Thursday in Green Bay?

Weekly Question


Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters