It's been quite some time since we've seen Darrius Barnes--444 days, in fact. That streak could come to an end on Wednesday when the New England Revolution face the New York Cosmos in the Fifth Round of the US Open Cup.
Originally drafted by the Revs in 2009, Barnes made an instant impact, playing every minute during his rookie season. Since then, Barnes' career has been a bit turbulent as he's spent time as both a starter and reserve.
The veteran appeared to be the on the verge of a career renaissance during the early stages of 2015 when a torn patellar tendon in his left knee forced him to have surgery. Barnes got healthy just as the season came to an end, a hopeful sign that he'd be ready for the 2016 campaign. Unfortunately, various injuries have kept him away from the field.
"[I] had high expectations coming into the season in preseason, and then, unfortunately, I rolled my ankle and that set me back a little bit, [and] ended up being worse than I thought originally," Barnes explained. "Then, I had a little bit of a compensation injury with my hip flexor, but got all things cleared away. Think I got the kinks out, so I’m ready to go."
With Barnes feeling in good shape--as good as he's felt all season, according to him--starting against the Cosmos isn't out of the questions. The Revs, who have already played three games since returning from the Copa America break on June 15, will need big performances from their depth players in order to navigate the busy stretch ahead. A healthy Barnes could be an important contributor.
That said, the North Carolina native will need to earn his spot. One thing Barnes has going for him is his versatility. Throughout his career, Barnes has shown that he's capable of playing anywhere along the back line. In sum, he is a glue player.
"Just toughness," Barnes said when asked what he brings to the team. "[I'm] a consistent guy just going out there doing my part on the field. I’ve always been a team guy. I feel like I’ve played my role pretty well, just kind of keep the group together."
While Barnes is hopeful that he'll make his 2016 debut this week, head coach Jay Heaps will make the final decision and so far the gaffer has been coy about who he plans to start. But if Barnes' name does get called, you can rest assure that he'll be ready to go.
"It’s been a long time since I had the surgery last April," Barnes noted. "Since that day, I’ve been itching to get back on the field. I’ve been training for a long time. I’m anxious, very anxious to get on the field with the guys."