Boniek García got his daughter a unique birthday present Sunday: An Eastern Conference Championship clinching goal.
On his daughter’s birthday, the always smiling Honduran buried a one-timer over D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid in the 33rd minute to essentially put the series out of reach and help send the Houston Dynamo, a team he has meshed with so easily, to their fourth MLS Cup Final in seven years.
“I’m just ecstatic,” said García, who had a birthday message for his daughter on his under-shirt, through a translator. “From the very beginning the transition’s been very smooth. The camaraderie in the locker room has been conducive to that and I’m just looking to contribute some more.”
García’s goal, quite simply, was a true moment of skill. Davis fought through the right side of D.C.’s defense to work the end line and deliver a hard ball to the streaking Garcia who left no doubt by putting his shot into the roof of the net, giving Hamid little chance to make a save.
“[Boniek’s] been a huge addition for us. He brings that something special,” Brad Davis remarked. “As soon as I played it, I saw him coming across the defender and from there he’s pretty deadly. From there you have to have confidence in your teammate that he’s going to score and he did.”
It was the type of moment the Dynamo have come to expect from García. The Designated Player came to Houston in June and right away added an element of skill and persistence that has helped propel the Dynamo in the second half and playoffs.
However, there was still the lack of a defining playoff moment. After Sunday, that search is over.
“I was actually giving him trouble yesterday in finishing,” said striker Will Bruin. “I beat him at finishing and so he told me ‘I’ll score one tomorrow and you won’t.’ He got me there, but I’m glad.”
Despite being up two goals on aggregate, the importance of García’s goal cannot be overstated. On the road in front of a raucous, sold-out crowd, he delivered an early blow that set the tone for Houston’s second leg triumph.
It also gave the Honduran another reason to show off every one of his pearly whites.
“It’s a great club to be around. We always have fun off the field, but on the field it’s always business and we always take care of business,” García said. “I’m just blessed to be participating with this club and hopefully in two weeks we can celebrate again.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.