I sat down with midfielder Giles Barnes here in Tucson to discuss a variety of subjects, including his mindset this preseason, the proverbial U.S./England comparisons, his reasons for returning to Houston and more. Here is Part II of the interview.
Q: Now in MLS for a few months, are there any misconceptions about the league that you were told before arriving that you think are not accurate?
A: I always kind of knew what the league was about. You do hear from other people who aren’t even involved in the league that it is a bit of a retirement-person’s league. But I tell you what, there are some great athletes in this league, and that didn’t surprise me because I know quite a lot of American people and the American work ethic, and to be athletic is a big thing in America. It hasn’t been too far different from playing at home and I only have good things to say about this league.
Q: Major League Soccer has been described as an “athletic” league, with many athletes, good tempo and a high level of fitness and physicality. Do you think that style fits your qualities?
A: Yeah, I think it does. I think sometimes you have to find places which actually suit your way of playing, and I think this league does suit the way that I play. There are a lot of technically blessed players on our team, and there are a lot on other teams as well. Here, you get a mixture of both types of players.
Q: One observation I have made this preseason is that it seems you and Franck Songo’o have combined well in training sessions and scrimmages. Is there anything behind that, or am I just seeing something?
A: We have known of each other for quite a while, as he was in England as well (with Portsmouth, Crystal Palace, Preston North End, and other clubs), and we know quite a lot of the same people. We’ve been playing “young v. old” in training, and he is on the young side, I am on the young side, and we both play in midfield, so it has been easy to talk with him, and he is a good player as well. I always enjoy playing with good players, and that is another reason I came Houston- it is full of good players.
Q: The Dynamo have one of the deepest midfields in the league, with several international players and a lot of depth in the central midfield. What was your mindset of coming back to Houston and competing for time against other quality players.
A: You’ve got to back yourself and back your ability, and I’ve always backed my own ability. I think the six weeks of fitness is going to do me a world of good, and coming in and starting at the same point as everyone else, I back myself to the end.
Q: You’ve mentioned that on your visit home to England over the winter, a lot of friends asked you about MLS and sought advice for coming to play in the league. Does anything stand out for you as their main interest for playing in the U.S.? Is it the quality of play in the league, or the American lifestyle, or maybe both?
A: I think it is a combination of both. A lot of people do need a change, and the people that I spoke to, have played in England for quite a while and they want to test themselves in other places. They see this as the league where they can come test themselves and play against people from all over the world. It is not just American players over here, you’ve got great South American players and players from Honduras, Mexico and other places.