COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (July 16, 2018) – Barely 24 hours after officially being announced as a new member of the Colorado Rapids, forward Giles Barnes made his first start for the club. Against his long-time club Houston Dynamo, Barnes had some good moments in 52 minutes on Saturday in a 0-0 draw.
‘Happy Guy’ Giles Barnes: Ready to create and embrace challenge for Colorado Rapids
Giles Barnes had a decent game all things considered but did exit in the second half with an apparent right foot injury, souring his debut. Rapids manager Anthony Hudson said it wasn’t serious postgame.
The English-born Jamaican International shrugged it off when speaking with Last Word on Soccer on Sunday. “I’ve just left the treatment room. It’s pretty swollen today. I’m confident we’ll get the swelling down and everything should be good,” Barnes said.
Injury concerns aside, Barnes’ arrival in Commerce City seems to be a perfect storm for him personally and the club. The Rapids are near the bottom of the Western Conference and desperately needed to shake something up.
Playing style fits a need:
As regular listeners of Holding The High Line know by now, the Rapids are doing a decent job of getting the ball into the final third via the wings. Offensively, they’re struggling with chance creation and presence in the middle of the pitch. They’re almost no threat in Zone 14 most games.
“I’m someone who likes to try and make things happen, in a way that maybe [Rapids Supporters] haven’t seen before. I go by ‘the harder you work, the luckier you’ll be.’ I like to try things outside the box. I like to be a creative force,” said Barnes when asked to describe his playing style to someone who had never seen him play before.
Barnes made his professional debut at 17-years-old for Derby County. He was born in the meat-grinder that is the English Championship. While he’s an attacking player with the finesse to match it, he can be tough when needed. As his statement about hard work suggests, he’s willing to put in some elbow grease when it’s required.
The Championship is a physical league. Just ask his new teammate Jack Price, who took awhile to get used to the MLS definition of a yellow card.
Barnes played in MLS from 2012 until this past December (signing with Club Leon in Liga MX). Most of that time was spend at Houston Dynamo during an era where they were one of the blue collar teams of MLS. He fit right in with that squad.
Barnes seems to have a unique skill set the team desperately needs with the workmanlike attitude the club is historically known for.
Positive first impressions:
Giles Barnes joined the Rapids with a pep in his step and some familiar faces to greet. He’s known Captain Tim Howard for a number of years from the time they both spent playing in England. Howard was also a familiar foe on the international level for the Jamaican striker, who has 19 caps, 3 goals, making his debut for the Reggae Boyz in 2015.
Barnes is also familiar with Jack Price and several of the longtime MLS players. He said he felt welcomed to a family in ways he hadn’t been at other clubs.
Barnes appears to have returned the welcome as well. Defender Axel Sjoberg described him as “a happy guy,” adding “he came in with a positive attitude in the locker room.” Others described him as having a big personality on and off the pitch.
We saw glimpses of that on Saturday with Barnes taking charge of the offense on the ball.
Disturbed time at Leon:
Since coming to MLS in 2012, Barnes had only had one stint outside the league. Out of contract with Orlando City SC, he signed in January with Club Leon in Liga MX. Barnes made just three appearances, all of them in Copa MX, scoring no goals.
“The period I was there I was actually pretty disturbed,” Barnes lamented. “With Leon it was a difficult period for me. I came in late last season. It was a short turn around from last season and the manager had already had [his Starting XI in place].”
Barnes also dealt with a language barrier. None of Leon’s coaching staff spoke English. He did have American teammates William Yarbrough and fellow newcomer Landon Donovan to help translate, but that still seemed to hurt his potential to play at Leon.
To make matters worse, he picked up a bone bruise that limited his availability. It was clearly an unhealthy situation he needed to get out of.
Giles Barnes returns to MLS with something to prove. One could argue he hasn’t had a good stint with a club since leaving Houston.
He’s under contract with the Rapids for 2018 with a team option for 2019. If he wants to reestablish himself in MLS, he’ll have to perform well. This will earn him a contract in 2019, with Colorado or elsewhere.
It’s fitting that a hungry player joins a hungry team. The Rapids are trying to make a run in the second half of the season to challenge for the playoffs. They’re looking to add pieces in the transfer window as well.
Barnes told Last Word on Soccer he got excited when speaking to club officials about the vision they have. He clearly saw the role he’ll fit into and has embraced the uphill battle:
“For me, I wanted a challenge and I wanted to play. When Saturday comes, I come alive.”
For the Rapids to somehow make the playoffs, they’ll need Barnes to come alive every matchday. For Barnes, that challenge was accepted the moment he signed on the dotted line.