Hartford Athletic's Danny Barrera and new club CEO Nick Sakiewicz after Barrera re-signed for his sixth season with the club. | Photo courtesy Hartford Athletic
HARTFORD, Conn. – Hartford Athletic midfielder announced on Tuesday that attacking midfielder Danny Barrera had re-signed for the 2024 USL Championship season, pending league and federation approval. Barrera is the longest tenured player in Hartford history, returning for his sixth season in Green and Blue. Barrera will also be taking on a new role as a player development coach in the club’s recently expanded Hartford Athletic Academy.
“Hartford has become home for me and my family and I am truly honored to be back for a sixth season,” said Barrera. “I want to thank the ownership group for giving me another opportunity to play for the club I love and the best fans in the league. I am excited for the 2024 season, and we will all be working hard to get back to the playoffs.”
Barrera is Hartford’s all-time leader in nearly every statistical category including goals (16), assists (30), appearances (131), and minutes played (9,894). He is the only player in Athletic history to receive USL All-League First Team honors which he earned in 2021 after recording a league-leading 12 assists along with eight goals. The 33-year-old is one of the league’s all-time assists leaders across a nine-year career, currently ranking third in league history in total assists (50).
“You cannot mention Hartford Athletic without thinking of Danny Barrera. He is a special player, and an amazing person on and off the field,” said Athletic CEO Nick Sakiewicz. “Players like Danny continuing on their soccer journey to mentor young players is invaluable and, as we take the Hartford Academy to another level, having Danny involved is critical to our success.
“There is no better way for our young players to improve than by learning directly from our professional athletes. This is a historic moment for our club and we are thrilled Danny will be part of our ambition to create a top-flight academy here in Connecticut.”
After a frustrating campaign in 2023, Danny Barrera will be eager to help Hartford rebound under its new leadership and provide the on-field leadership and qualities that he’s been known for. In terms of creativity, Barrera had one of his most luckless seasons in the Championship this past season. He recorded only one assist in the campaign but had an Expected Assists mark of 4.65xA, a mark that put him in the Top 20 creators in the Championship. It might be the best illustration of how the side’s finishing let chances go astray despite the opportunities Barrera provided.
At 33 years old, however, the next stage of Barrera’s path is also coming closer and Hartford’s move to make him part of its expanding Academy program is a smart move for both parties. The technical qualities and leadership Barrera can pass on after recording almost 225 appearances in the Championship in his career will be invaluable for Hartford’s prospects and offers a bridge to the sidelines for Barrera whenever he feels the time has come to move into coaching full-time.