Win Over United Shows Giles Barnes’ Best Role with Orlando City



Giles Barnes played his best game of the year on Wednesday coming off the bench. His energy and enthusiasm pumped up the crowd and his team. He was so good that it is clear Jason Kreis needs to resist the urge to start Banes on Sunday and use him as a super sub for the rest of the season.

On Wednesday night, Orlando had the advantage over D.C. United for much of the match. DC managed to string together a few attacks, but overall Orlando had the better of the chances. Despite the advantage in play, Orlando had nothing to show for it. The game felt like it might be one of those nights that many soccer fans know too well: a night when your team is better, but the result slips through your hands like a Florida downpour.

Kreis introduced Barnes in the 59th minute. Seven minutes later, his running at D.C. defenders led to a free kick that Cyle Larin headed home for the match-winner. Both before and after that goal, Barnes’ running caused headaches for D.C.’s back line. His dribbling makes defenders commit to late tackles or opens up passing lanes for other attackers as he draws the attention of second and third defenders. Not all of his dribbles end positively, but the rewards outweigh the risks of some lost possession from time to time (as we saw Wednesday night with his hopeful shot from distance that squirmed past Bill Hamid).

Of the versatile attacking options Orlando has on its roster, Barnes fits the role of super sub best. Matias Perez Garcia and Kaká are two players who can also have an impact off the bench. MPG is better suited to find guys like Larin, Kaká, Carlos Rivas, and Barnes in space. MPG also showed on Wednesday night that he can help the team keep possession in midfield by getting out of tight spaces with his close control. His role off the bench is more possession based. Kaká is another player who can add a spark off the bench, but Orlando can better utilize the captain with him on the field for more minutes. Kaká, even in the twilight of his career, is still capable of scoring a goal that no one else on the team can score. His technique and world-class finishing is a weapon many teams crave. He needs to be on the field from the start just for that reason alone. The choice of starting Kaká or Barnes comes down to what gets the most out of each player.

Barnes has split his time as a substitute and a starter this season with seven goals started in 14 appearances. His recent form suggests that it is in the best interest of the team for him to begin increase the amount of times he is used as a sub. Barnes gives the team a much-needed boost in the later minutes of a match when defenders are tired and Orlando needs an extra push. In most cases, when a player performs as well as Barnes has off the bench, it means they have earned the right to start the next match. But with Barnes’ skill set, Orlando needs to resist that temptation and “bench” Barnes in future contests.


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