With just fifty-percent of the back line healthy and eligible to start in the Revolution's home opener, Jay Heaps rolled the dice on Darrius Barnes and Jeremy Hall. The duo ultimately led the Revolution to its first shutout of the season, slowing down a pacey Montreal front line.
Though Jose Goncalves will return on Saturday when the Revolution host San Jose, the club will likely need to find a replacement for the injured Kevin Alston. Barnes and Hall serve as the obvious candidates.
Which defender should remain in the Starting XI?
Nick: Jeremy Hall
Back Four: Tierney, Goncalves, Farrell, Hall
When Jose Goncavles returns to action on Saturday, he will likely send either Darrius Barnes or Jeremy Hall to the bench, reuniting the Goncalves-Farrell center back pairing. Though I've never been one to make sudden judgements, I'm all in for Hall.
On paper, the 26-year old put in a pedestrian shift in the Revs' scoreless draw with Montreal: 81% passing, six interceptions, one blocked shot and one solid clearance. He never really endured a "shining moment"--aside from a gritty blocked shot following a dead sprint from midfield--though his full, 90-minute performance serves as a testament to his versatility. Hall stifled the left side of the Montreal attack, including the dangerous Maxim Tissot, and stalled Frank Klopas' clear plan to attack down the left channel. He stood strong 1v1, jumped a handful of daunting through balls and, perhaps most importantly, worked harder than virtually anyone on the pitch.
Now, don't get me wrong--Darrius Barnes also turned in a strong performance, and deserves recognition for admirably filling in for the suspended Goncalves. But when comes down to it, Barnes makes me pause. The vet often gets caught out of position, has a tendency to commit dangerous fouls, gives away sloppy passes and, aside from a deep throw-in, rarely contributes to the attack. I'm a fan of Barnes the fifth defender, but am not convinced he would provide the week-in, week-out support the Revolution so desperately need.
Seth: Darrius Barnes
Back Four: Tierney, Goncalves, Barnes, Farrell
Early glimpses have hinted that Jose Goncalves and Andrew Farrell may be too similar to partner together. Both are excellent individual players that tend to be a bit too adventurous going forward. To counteract this, Coach Jay Heaps could opt to introduce Darrius Barnes, a classic stay-at-home defender, to the middle while sliding Farrell back to the right back position.
Barnes made his bid for a spot in the starting XI last Saturday when he went 90 minutes against the Montreal Impact. According to Squawka.com, the Duke product finished the game with four interceptions, five clearances and an aerial duel percentage of 67% through three attempts. These statistics tell the story of a steady defender who is able to use his positioning to put out fires. And that's exactly what the Revs need right now.
That said, Goncalves and Farrell will likely continue their quest to build chemistry, which isn't a bad idea considering that the tandem has had flashes. If this is the case, Barnes should be moved to right back as a reward for last Saturday's performance.
How would you arrange the back four ahead of Saturday's match vs. San Jose? Tell us below.