HOUSTON – When it came time to decide on his next career track, MLS offered Giles Barnes a stage he could not resist.
The former English youth international and EPL midfielder signed with the Houston Dynamo last week despite European interest. What attracted the 24-year-old to MLS? It was a chance to show what he can do in a league that is becoming a legitimate option for young internationals.
“I wanted to come to a league that was very competitive and on the up, that’s what swayed me to come here,” the midfielder told MLSsoccer.com. “Once I saw the set-up here in Houston it was a no-brainer. Now my goal here is just to show everyone what I’m really about.”
What Barnes is about is what has people in Houston intrigued. During a quick two-day trial the former Fulham and West Bromwich Albion midfielder showed flashes of his EPL-level skill, demonstrating to head coach Dominic Kinnear that he can be a threat going forward.
“From what we saw in 11-on-11 with the ball at his feet he makes good decisions and he’s strong on it,” Kinnear told MLSsoccer.com. “He’s done some things off the field that when you look at it from a signing standpoint it makes it pretty simple. Now it’s just a point of getting him fit and on the field and him fitting in.”
Barnes looks to have made a smooth transition with his new teammates. He is vocal during training and seems to have found his place in the squad rather quick.
“He’s done well and I think he’s going to be a good addition to our team,” Ricardo Clark said. “With his experience playing at a high level in the EPL it should be good for us.”
While he looks to be fitting in well, there are still some hurdles Barnes is hoping to clear and getting fit is tops on the list. Since signing, he is putting in two-a-day training sessions to accelerate his fitness preparations as he acclimates to the tough Houston heat.
The newcomer will have some time to work on that fitness considering he still has visa issues to attend to. His application has been approved but he has to have his paperwork finalized by British officials; that could mean a trip back home before being cleared to play.
Even with the anticipated travel, Barnes aims to suit up in Friday’s Reserve League match against Real Salt Lake with the need for game minutes. His goal is to be available for selection starting September 14 against Sporting Kansas City.
“The manager thinks I can bring something different to the team as well and that’s what I’m hoping to do,” Barnes said. “It’s running with the ball, sliding people through and just to give them maybe something different that they’ve not had.
“I just want to show everyone what I’m about and this is a great league to play in," he continued. "I’m so happy to be here.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.