New England Soccer Today

Barnes Battling Back

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Years before he went under the knife, Revolution defender Darrius Barnes knew something wasn’t quite right with his left knee.

In April, the veteran defender underwent surgery to repair a torn patella after feeling an odd sensation in a knee that had given problems in the past.

“A lot of people didn’t know it,” Barnes said, “but I had been struggling with patella tendinitis for a long time – pretty much ever since I got in the league.”

Barnes said the first sign he knew something wasn’t right with his left knee was when he started to feel a lingering ache after games during his first year in MLS. At the time, Barnes thought nothing of it. In his mind, was just the normal aches and pains that every rookie endures during their first foray into professional soccer.

But as the years went by, the pain never subsided. Quite the opposite, in fact.

“It kind of progressively got worse,” Barnes said. “Playing on turf game in and game out, it kind of wears on that tendon, and there was some degeneration of the tendon already, micro tears on the tendon, so I had been kind of nursing that and piecing it together.”

The veteran defender said he was vigilant about attending to his knee. He regularly iced it after each game, and met with the club’s trainers regularly. He said he took medication before each game in order to mask the pain, and hoped that he could manage it as best as he could.

Then, during the Revolution’s 0-0 draw at home to Columbus, Barnes hit his breaking point. He can’t recall the exact point in the game in which it occurred, but he remembered taking a step to change direction, and feeling his knee jam up.

“It just felt different than times were I’d jammed it before,” Barnes said. “I think there were about 20 minutes left, so I figured I could just tough out it, but I definitely didn’t feel 100 percent after that. I couldn’t really walk too well after the game.”

The following day, Barnes had an MRI taken on the knee, and the results revealed a truth he tried to put on the back burner for years: he’d need to have his knee operated on.

“It was only a matter of time before I had to get surgery,” Barnes said. “I wanted to put it off to see if the strength would come back, but at that point, it was just a matter of time. It was if, and not when, I’d have to have surgery.”

After months of rehabbing the knee, Barnes was taken off the disabled list a day before the roster freeze, a move that made him eligible for postseason play. He hoped that a deep run similar to the one the Revolution put together would allow him to see the field again in 2015.

“Obviously, I wanted the team to win to get to the next round,” Barnes said. “But selfishly, I wanted that opportunity.  I’ve been grinding working hard to try to make it back at some point this season, and to just fall short of that opportunity was just a little punch to the gut.”

While the Revolution’s postseason run came to a premature end last week in DC, Barnes said he’ll continue to do whatever he can to get back to where he was prior to the surgery.

One encouraging development: Barnes says the knee feels better than it did before that fateful Columbus game.

But getting back to his normal self physically is only one aspect of Barnes’ recovery. He said he became a student of the game while watching his team from a distance, and hearing his teammates talk after each performance.  He started to think more analytically of how to improve his own game.

With a fully repaired knee, and a greater understanding of the game he loves, Barnes believes that when he does return to the pitch in 2016, fans, teammates and coaches alike will see better version of the veteran defender.

“I think this injury is going to be a blessing in disguise for me,” Barnes said. “I think next year will be a big season for me to come back fully healthy and strong.”


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