With one half of their strike tandem nailed down in the form of fourth-year man Will Bruin, the Houston Dynamo seemed to have found the other half after Giles Barnes enjoyed a successful transition from midfield to forward in 2013.
This season, however, has not been as kind as to Barnes, scoreless in eight games this season for a Houston team that is now winless in its last six games (0-4-2) after starting with two wins. The Englishman's confidence has not wavered, however, and his mantra remains the same: The goals will come.
“For me, I’m fine; I’m confident in my ability,” Barnes said. “I’ve just got to keep getting those opportunities, and hopefully one’ll come off my ear or off my backside, and they’ll keep coming in from there. As long as we can turn this around and get winning and get scoring, I don’t care who scores, and I’ve said that since Day 1.”
Barnes experienced a similar drought last season, going 11 games without a goal, so this is not entirely unfamiliar territory. Still, the Dynamo think that having him play closer to goal will benefit both him and the club.
“He likes to come get the ball with his feet, but we’ve encouraged him to get in the box, where he scored a majority of his goals last year,” said head coach Dominic Kinnear. “He’s good in the air, has good size. ... He scores goals in training, so it’ll come.”
Kinnear’s advice makes sense: of Barnes' nine goals in 2013, all but two were from inside the box.
“Dom’s always said that to me, that a lot of my goals come from within the box, getting on the end with late runs or with headers or just kind of landing on things,” Barnes said. “I’ve got to concentrate on doing that a bit more instead of maybe looking for a shot from 25 yards or that kind of stuff.”
While Bruin has notched four goals and broke a drought of his own when he scored against Portland on Sunday -- a play on which Barnes ducked to let Bruin take the chance -- Houston are hoping to get more production from Barnes in the near future. If his struggles continue, however, it might not be long before the Dynamo look at Omar Cummings in a starting role.
Barnes and his teammates are remaining confident it will not come to that.
“I think Giles has been outstanding for us this year but hasn’t had his luck, whereas last year they were going in for him,” said midfielder Andrew Driver. “One deflection, one bit of luck, and I think players like him will start scoring, and it starts taking care of itself.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.