The term "Designated Player" comes with a certain, and sometimes unrealistic, level of expectations in MLS. And with those expectations comes pressure to perform and live up to the tag.
In the case of Boniek García, Houston’s latest high-profile signing, there is no pressure but simply an understanding of what’s expected. After his first training on Thursday, the 27-year-old Honduran international said he is ready to provide the Dynamo with a shot in the arm midway through their 2012 campaign.
“It’s not so much pressure but nervousness,” García told MLSsoccer.com through a translator. “I feel nervous because I know what the expectations are and I want to come in and contribute from the get-go. The expectation for me is to do as well as possible. No. 1 is to try and do well at training, then try and get a starting spot. Then it’s to try and help the team do well and get to the playoffs and get all the way to the final.”
WATCH: García on arrival in Houston
From all indications, García will get the chance to do that on the right wing, the position that both he and head coach Dominic Kinnear – who did not tip his hand on what his newcomer’s role will be Saturday against the Philadelphia Union – confirmed he would prefer.
On Thursday, García had his first chance to show what he can do on the right wing in an 11-vs.-11 drill and short-field games. According to Geoff Cameron, the takeaway from Garcia’s first session was composure that the US international feels will provide a good element to the Dynamo.
“He’s calm on the ball. You can’t teach that, that comes natural,” Cameron said. “To have a guy like that, with confidence on the ball, he’s smooth. When he’s under pressure, he won’t panic. He doesn’t get rattled, he’s just smooth on the ball. I think he’ll do well here.”
As with any player coming into the league, there will be an adjustment period. García admitted that the heat would take some time to get used to and there is also the hurdle of overcoming the language barrier.
But on the field, in the run of play, there is an optimism that García will fit right in and be able to meet any expectations head on.
“Technically, I think the guys are good,” García said of his new teammates. “It’s the same position I used to play in Honduras, which is not anything different than what I’m used to. I think I’ll adapt to the team as quickly as possible and hopefully contribute quickly.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.