FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It is one of the toughest scenarios a substitute can confront: getting the hasty call to come into a game to replace an injured teammate. Not only does he have to get the blood pumping and the muscles moving, but he must sharpen his mental focus at a moment’s notice.
But that’s the situation that Revolution defender Darrius Barnes encountered in last weekend’s clash with the Dynamo after center back Jose Goncalves picked up a right quad injury late in the first half following a sharp challenge from Ricardo Clark.
“It's always difficult when you're coming off the bench like that, especially unexpectedly,” Barnes said. “I mean, anything can happen in a game, but you don't expect Jose to get injured like that.”
Even so, it was clear that Barnes was up to the challenge. Though he was assigned to the right back’s spot, with Andrew Farrell sliding over to Goncalves’ center back spot, the sixth-year defender helped keep the lid on a Dynamo side that failed to register a single shot on target all evening.
But even though it wasn’t the ideal entrance -- especially for a defender, who’s forced to mark players whose engines are already warmed -- Barnes said it was all in a day’s work.
“We're expected to go in when we're called upon,” Barnes said. “Jose went down and the coach called my number to go in, so I just had to go in and do my job.”
New turf gets rave review
In between the Revolution’s home opener on March 23 vs. Vancouver and last weekend’s clash vs. Houston, a new synthetic surface was installed at Gillette Stadium. Not surprisingly, the new carpet drew rave reviews from the players.
“It’s unbelievable,” Revolution fullback Kevin Alston said. “It’s way better; it’s fresh. More cushion and the ball rolls a lot smoother. It doesn’t bounce as much.”
The previous surface was installed prior to the 2010 MLS season and endured four seasons’ worth of professional soccer, pro and college football, in addition to concerts and other high-profile sporting events.
By the time the Revolution’s season opener arrived, it was clear a new surface was needed after a number of odd bounces and unusual rolls were witnessed in the 0-0 draw against the Whitecaps.
“Anytime you replace turf with new turf, it’s going to feel a lot better,” Alston said, “and it definitely showed (on Saturday).”
Barnes happy for friend, teammate Alston
Aside from Alston himself, perhaps no one was more excited to see the sixth-year fullback score his first MLS goal last weekend than Barnes.
Alston and Barnes were both drafted by the Revolution in 2009, and since then, they have become close friends. That friendship became stronger after Alston was diagnosed with leukemia last year -- a year that saw Alston miss four months of action while he underwent treatment.
So when Alston’s 68th-minute shot found the back of the net, it wasn’t a surprise that Barnes was one of the first to join in the goal celebration.
"It was great,” Barnes said. “I was ecstatic for him to get his first goal in a game like this (because) I feel like it was a big game at this point in the season. And just after all he's been through - I thought it was great for him to step back on the field and get his first 90 (minutes).”