Published on March 18, 2016 at 9:18 pm Contact Paul: email@example.com | @pschweds Tim Barber stood on the sideline with his helmet off staring toward the field. Not even two games into the season and he was already out with an injury after getting decked to the turf against Albany on Feb. 21. Barber missed the second half, but returned the following week.Barber’s season has been affected by injuries, not only to him, but to others. When attack Nick Piroli went down with an injury before the Albany game, Barber shifted from midfield to attack. That’s where he’s remained every game since after an entire preseason prepping to play midfield.“They just threw a bunch of us down there, worked us out down there and they chose me,” Barber said of finding a new third attack.With Piroli practicing once again, Barber’s role may continue to change, though No. 3 Syracuse (5-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast) head coach John Desko said the starting lineup won’t change “too much,” since Piroli isn’t quite in game shape yet. But regardless of where Barber lines up on Saturday at 4 p.m. against rival No. 8 Johns Hopkins (3-2) at Homewood Field in Baltimore, he’s shown his diverse offensive skill set works in any position he’s put in.Barber ranks third on the Orange in points with nine goals and five assists, including five goals in the last two games. After last season, he moved up from the second midfield line to the first and he’s been forced back into a similar spot as he was last season, too.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWhen attack Randy Staats missed three games in 2015 with an injury, Barber was the one to bump up to attack. At first, the timing fellow attacks Dylan Donahue and Kevin Rice had with him wasn’t as good as it was with Staats. It took Barber time to adjust to the new off-ball movements he had to make despite playing attack in high school. But a year later, thrust into a near-identical spot, Barber was ready to play with Donahue and attack Jordan Evans.“I would kind of run around not really know where to go on the field. Once I moved down to the attack spot last year, that was all nerves,” Barber said. “This year, it’s a lot easier.”Desko said “it was a little scary” when initially moving Barber to attack a few weeks ago because in order to take advantage of opponents’ defensive midfielders that use short sticks, midfielders have to be able to dodge past them. Taking Barber, who excels at dodging, out of that mix meant Syracuse could have been a player short on the revamped midfield.With the emergence of Derek DeJoe, who has started the past two games at midfield, the Orange hasn’t lost anything without Barber. DeJoe has impressed Desko with his ability to dodge, something he hadn’t shown in past years.That’s allowed Barber’s spot at attack to stay constant. And with Barber used to playing in front of the goal, that opens up more space for Donahue and Evans behind it.“It’s harder for defenses to cover,” Evans said. “If you’re used to playing a guy behind the goal and now that guy’s in front of the goal or a little bit farther out, that slide is going to be a lot farther and that’s going to cause problems for your tight defense.”Against then-No. 17 Virginia on March 4, Barber highlighted a goal he scored specifically because of an off-ball cut he made from the top of the offensive area. He received a pass from Donahue and canned the shot. Barber knew where to be and Donahue knew where to find him. The play worked to perfection. Syracuse beat UVA by just one goal.While the Orange’s offense is set up with six players working cohesively rather than two separate position groups, Barber is more comfortable at attack than he was last year. With Piroli close to coming back, Barber’s spot may shift again. And he’s prepared for that.“He’s a student of the game,” Desko said. “His ability to understand the offense as an attack and a midfielder, he’s done a good job with that.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+
Republic of Ireland midfielder James McCarthy was on the scoresheet for Everton in a 3-nil win at home to ten-man Newcastle.While Chelsea are six points clear of Manchester City at the top after a 1-all draw with Southampton at Stamford Bridge. Liverpool will look to close the gap to Manchester United in the race for the Champions League tonight.Brendan Rodgers brings his Reds to his former side Swansea, with kick-off at the Liberty Stadium at 8 o’clock.Manchester United hold a five-point advantage over Liverpool following yesterday’s comfortable 3-nil defeat of Tottenham.