A closer look at new Whitecaps FC acquisition Giles Barnes

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“A dynamic offensive player.”

That’s how Vancouver Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson described Giles Barnes, who the ‘Caps acquired from Houston Dynamo late Saturday.

It was an apt description.

Barnes is a player who can hurt you in many different ways. Let’s take a closer look.

His MLSsoccer.com bio refers to him as a “one-man counter attack.” That probably has something to do with his pace and power. Barnes was a sprinter in high school, winning a gold medal in the 100-metre dash at the national level. He could have had a career in it too, but “football always came first,” he told FourFourTwo back in 2007.

In that same interview, Barnes said his strength is “running at people with the ball.” It’s still one of Barnes’ most dangerous attributes, but his game has evolved considerably since then.

For most of his career, Barnes has been a winger or attacking midfielder – thought he played a bit of defensive midfield in England with Doncaster Rovers as well. In 2013, however, he started playing a little further up the field as a centre forward.

The switch paid dividends, as he went on to lead the Dynamo in scoring in both 2013 and 2014.

“It’s a transition from delivering the ball to attacking it,” Barnes told HoustonDynamo.com.

This year, Barnes has played in a few different positions. Eight of his starts came on the left wing, three as a lone striker, and two on the right wing. He has scored four goals, two from inside the box and two from outside the box as you can see below, and has added a pair of assists.

Interestingly, all four of his goals this season came when he was playing as a left winger.

You’ll find that many of his goals look something like that.

So to summarize: Barnes could slot into the left wing as a direct swap for the injured Manneh, he could play as a #10/second forward – perhaps alongside Masato Kudo or just behind him – or he could play as a lone striker in a 4-2-3-1. At 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, he would certainly be able to hold his own against opposing centre backs.

The following graphic, which illustrates the areas on the pitch where Barnes has created chances for his teammates this season, is quite telling.

Barnes can hurt you in different ways – and from different areas.

In describing his style of play, Whoscored.com says Barnes “likes to dribble, cut inside, cross, and shoot from distance.” Doesn’t sound like a lot of fun to defend.

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