COLUMBUS – Chad Barson carried a 3.99 grade point average as a biology major at the University of Akron, so it's not a stretch to say the Columbus Crew's Homegrown rookie defender is a quick learner.
And having seen how first-team right back Josh Williams likes to advance the attack, Barson filled in more than capably when Williams was scratched before Saturday's game against Houston with a sore calf.
The 22-year-old, in his first MLS start and just second appearance, was instrumental in rallying Columbus to a 1-1 draw with the Houston Dynamo on Saturday night, drawing the decisive penalty kick that Federico Higuain converted in the 69th minute to level the score and move the Crew to a 4-4-5 record.
Barson took a layoff from Dominic Oduro on the right side of the box and made a cutback move to his left that forced Andrew Driver to take him down.
"I tried to step to the ball and beat the other guy to it," Barson said. "Luckily, I got a touch and he took me down."
That Barson was even in position to make the play showed some initiative for the 21-year-old.
"Maybe he's been watching Josh and it rubbed off on him," Crew center back Eric Gehrig said. "As a right back you’re taught to go forward and try to make a difference in the game. He picked a good spot to go forward."
The youngster was also the beneficiary of some halftime adjustments.
"In the first half I don't think we gave him the ball enough but the second half that space was open and he was combining with Dominic [Oduro] and [Higuain] and a factor on the penalty," Columbus head coach Robert Warzycha said.
Barson said he didn't know until Saturday he was going to become the team's third Homegrown to start after goalkeeper Matt Lampson did so last season, followed by midfielder Ben Speas earlier this year.
"Maybe it was a little bit of destiny," Barson said. "My grandparents came to town this weekend. My whole family was able to come."
Not only was he well-supported by family, he got to go up against a close friend, Houston right back Kofi Sarkodie, another former Akron player, who assisted on the Dynamo goal by Warren Creavalle in the 31st minute.
"Kofi Sarkodie is one of my best friends," Barson said. "So for my first start in MLS it was interesting that we'd be going up against each other."