Brandon Barklage, D.C. United
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Barklage's development moving at a good clip for United

The new MLS collective bargaining agreement, crafted on theeve of the season, mandates a bump in club salary strictures and significantlyraises the wages paid to rookies and other young players. But to veterans ofthe developmental roster designation, some frugal habits prompted by miserlyreserve salaries die hard.

To wit, D.C. United second-year pro Brandon Barklage stillcuts his own hair.

“I’ve cut my hair for the last six years, just buzzing, justusing the guards and everything,” he explained recently. “It saves a lot ofmoney and time.”

So while some players linger in the United locker room aftertraining sessions to receive medical treatment or conduct interviews, Barklagehas taken to providing hair-trimming services to his teammates. He cut DannyAllsopp’s hair at RFK Stadium last week, the latest addition to a growing listof clients—or to use Barklage’s word, “patients”—around the locker room whohave been taking note of his work.

“I gave Devon [McTavish] a haircut back in Florida, andDevon was pretty happy with the outcome,” Barklage said. “So Danny saw it andcame to me. I have great experience with it, just because I was doing it forseven years. I’ve had a shaved head since I was a freshman in high school.”

Barklage’s playing reputation is growing as well. He’searned 160 minutes of playing time in the United midfield this season even ashe negotiates a tricky road back from an anterior cruciate ligament injury tohis right knee. He underwent surgery in July and spent most of offseasonrehabbing. He’s remarkably levelheaded about the fact that his repaired kneeseems to have a mind of its own at this point.

“It’s just about icing it down and keeping the swellingdown,” he said. “The first day of practice [last week], I think maybe it wasthe climate, the weather changing or something, it just swelled up on me. Ilooked down—it just got really swollen. They took me out of practice and wetried to calm it down a little bit, and it worked.”

If he continues to express that straightforward mentality onthe field, head coach Curt Onalfo will find it difficult to trim him from thestarting XI.