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2017 Orlando City Season in Review: Giles Barnes

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Despite playing his best football in years, Giles Barnes wasn’t able to help Orlando City win much this season.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After stand-out seasons for the Houston Dynamo, Giles Barnes found little playing time in Vancouver and was traded to Orlando City for Brek Shea prior to the 2017 season. Barnes arrived in Orlando with a sense of hope in reviving his career here in the Sunshine State.

He arrived in Orlando on a Designated Player contract and was bought down with Targeted Allocated Money during the summer transfer window when the club signed Yoshimar Yotun, only to have the option on his contract declined at season’s end by the Lions. While his contract fortunes changed over the season, his efforts on the field were a vast improvement over his previous season in Vancouver.

Barnes’ ability to run through the middle and create a sense of havoc were evident throughout the season, even as Orlando City’s fortunes dissolved. Barnes added something with his one-man counterattack to an offense that often felt too careful moving forward and too eager to make the safe backwards pass. Barnes brought intensity, hustle, and heart to the midfield, even if he was unable to bring wins. Even with a better season from the Jamaican international, it never seemed to be enough to get the Lions moving in a positive direction most games.

Statistical Breakdown

Barnes played more games in 2017 than in the previous three seasons, matching his best year in Houston by appearing in all 34 games — the only Lion to do so. He started in 23 of those games for Orlando. While seeing the field more in 2017, his goal tally was only three, just one more than the two times he found the back of the net for the Whitecaps on 10 games played a year ago. Barnes, despite the low goal tally this year, was active around the box with 52 shots, 16 of those on frame. Barnes contributed two assists to the Orlando cause as well, including a beauty on Cyle Larin’s strike that opened Orlando City Stadium with a win.

Barnes played 2,137 minutes without receiving any yellow or red cards from the notoriously generous referees. This is not insignificant for a team that suffered eight red cards this season.

Best Game

Barnes’ best game in purple came on Aug. 19 against the Columbus Crew. With Orlando still hoping for a shot at the playoffs, the man from Barking, England came up big with an angled shot that ricocheted off both posts before falling into the net. That goal tied things up with Columbus and kept the slow tailspin Orlando was experiencing during August in check for at least one night.

Barnes was our Man of the Match for that game with an 89% passing rate, a team-high five shots (two on target), and drawing three free kicks for his team. Defensively, he pitched in two tackles and an interception.

Final 2017 Grade

The Mane Land staff have seen fit to award Barnes a solid 6 for his efforts this season. A few on the staff, including myself, were a bit kinder with a 6.5, but an overall 6 does seem to fit the season. Had the Lions won more games or a few more shots had gone in, the same hustle from Barnes could have earned a higher grade, but Orlando’s issues on the field have to be taken into consideration.

2018 Outlook

Orlando denied the option on Barnes’ contract at the end of the season. That doesn’t mean for certain we’ve seen the last of him in purple. Unlike Antonio Nocerino, who respectfully said arrivederci to the Orlando faithful, Barnes’ usually active social media presence has been quiet since the announcement. That could signal that the midfielder is renegotiating for 2018. While Barnes didn’t seem to be the answer to Orlando’s enigmatic problems in 2017, I think he has something to offer the Lions moving forward. While everything is speculative, I think a partnership with Dom Dwyer could be productive for the Lions next season.


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