It was late Saturday evening when the announcement came.
“Orlando City acquires Giles Barnes from Vancouver in exchange for Brek Shea,” read the press release.
While the trade came as a surprise across the American soccer landscape, Barnes already had an inclination of his next destination, and thus began his cross-country journey to central Florida.
He trained for the first time with the team on Tuesday, though a light training session, but emphasized his desire to compete. His enthusiasm highlighted that desire on day one of the job.
“As soon as I laced up my boots today to go to training, I was ready to compete,” Barnes told the Orlando Soccer Journal. “The way that I play, I like to think I’m a dynamic, free-spirited player, but I also work hard for the team, they’ll see that not just about going forward, I’ll mark it with my share of the job as well. I’m good on set pieces too, and that’s why the staff brought me in.”
Barnes previously played for the Vancouver Whitecaps, making only 10 appearances and scoring two goals after getting traded to the Canadian side last July from the Houston Dynamo. It was with his time with the Dynamo, however, where he left his mark and left an impression during then-coach of Real Salt Lake, Jason Kreis.
“A couple years ago I felt easily he was one of the best players in the league,” said Kreis. “He’s an attacking, gifted player. Has great pace, great strength on the ball, and typically makes really good decisions with it. These are the types of players we’re looking to add to Orlando City. The type of players who are always comfortable with on the ball, but are also willing to work for the team.”
Barnes saw a majority of his MLS action with the Dynamo where he played from 2012-2016. But it was last July when his time with the Texas outfit came to end when he was traded to another Western Conference opponent. It’s this year, however, with Orlando City he’ll wear the No. 14.
Born in Barking, London, England, Barnes’ parents are of Jamaican descent, and has represented the Reggae Boyz since 2015 where he’s scored three goals in 14 appearances.
With preseason officially over, and the focus now on Sunday, Kreis believes he see’s Barnes bringing competition to his two potentially starting forwards in Cyle Larin and Carlos Rivas.
“I do see Giles Barnes competing right away,” said Kreis. “For me there aren’t starters and nonstarters, there’s a bunch of team members that are in contention to be starting on the weekend, and that changes week by week.”
While Barnes has the opportunity to provide competition to the forwards, he did provide some praise for the team’s leading goalscorer.
“Big, powerful, strong, knows how to finish,” said Barnes on giving his take on Larin. “And he’s a willing learner as well. For a young boy, he accepts responsibility of scoring goals, and that’s something you can’t buy, it’s ingrained in you. His work rate, I think he has all the attributes to be a top player.”
(Photo by Victor Tan / New Day Review)