Giles Barnes has made quite a home in Houston. After over two years with the Dynamo, the England-born attacker has amassed 20 goals in two seasons in MLS and made himself both a fan favorite and one of the club’s best performers.
But with the 2014 season concluded and changes ahead with a general manager and new head coach coming soon, Barnes and the entire Dynamo roster are preparing for an uncharted course.
For Barnes, however, it’s a simple answer.
“I want to be here. It’s up to the people in the head office,” Barnes told MLSsoccer.com. “I have an option so it’s up to them to decide what they want to do with me. It’s up to them what they want to do with me. I’m open to offers.”
Like many of his teammates, Barnes has a club-controlled option for 2014. The players have been told the club will hold off on any decisions regarding contracts until the new front office and coaching hires are made.
But after two years atop the club's scoring charts it’s a safe bet Barnes will be in Houston for the 2015 season. The question is, what comes beyond that?
With Barnes making clear his intentions to stay, the Dynamo will have to determine how they approach his situation, which could include a long-term contract extension. The striker has done his best to show his worth on the field, as he’s gone through a transformation since arriving in 2012.
Barnes signed with Houston after falling out of the first and second divisions in England. Looking to get his career headed in the right direction, he adapted and became a strong part of Houston’s attacking 2013, leading the club with nine goals.
He was then given a clear mandate: Get fit before the 2014 season. Barnes answered the bell.
“Giles put in a lot of work in the offseason,” said assistant coach Wade Barrett. “It wasn’t a long offseason but he put in a lot of work and he came in transformed. We saw that from the beginning of preseason that he’d done a lot of work and came in really, really fit.”
Once thought of as a chronic injury risk, Barnes played injury-free soccer this season and once again led the team in goals with 11. Adding to his physical transformation, he set the club mark for minutes played by a field player in a season, logging 3,028 while starting all 34 games.
It was a club MVP-level campaign and shows that he could be part of the solution going forward.
“This year I’ve taken it on to not just score goals, but to create and taking games a little more by the scruff of the neck instead of just hanging around and catching the odd goals,” Barnes said. “Last year I think I kind of got away with some performances because I scored, but I think this year I’ve had more of an influence in general play than I did last year.
“I think I’ve had a pretty decent year,” he continued. “I came here, I wanted to win championships. Hopefully next year I come back and perform just as well, if not a little bit better as well, and we get the results to get into the playoffs and win the MLS Cup.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.