Boniek Garcia’s 2013 has been anything but smooth. The Honduran ironman that took MLS by storm when he joined the Houston Dynamo in June of last year has struggled in his first full season in the league, battling fatigue and injuries while navigating a full slate of league and international games.
Saturday night, however, there was a glimpse of the player everyone saw last year.
Returning to the Dynamo lineup after a four-game absence due to a hamstring injury and international duty, Garcia was a creative force that helped drive the Dynamo to a performance that belied the 1-0 win over the Philadelphia Union. Garcia was cutting and playing with the ball at a rate that those at BBVA Compass Stadium became accustomed to last season, and Houston’s attack was better for it.
It was a performance that has Garcia’s confidence increasing and could be the turning point in a bumpy season.
“It felt very good,” Garcia said of his performance through a translator. “I felt it physically, but from a footballing standpoint I think I really brought something to the game.
“Without being able to be in the team it’s hard to grab a rhythm,” Garcia continued. “Other than three balls I lost I feel really good about my performance and am happy to get back to that level.”
Garcia’s played in just 10 of Houston’s 18 games this season, notching two assists. In the games he’s played, he’s rarely been healthy. The injuries and absences meant a choppy start to the season that saw the normally smooth and in-tune midfielder’s game suffer.
“Really, I didn’t have the rest I needed,” Garcia said. “In January I had national team duties; in February I had injuries; in March I had injuries, and I just didn’t have the rest and I haven’t been able to be as present here as I have with the national team.”
Finally healthy, Garcia looked to have that rhythm Saturday. With Garcia operating at a high rate, his play sparked a Dynamo attack that broke out of a three game scoreless streak when Ricardo Clark scored against the Union.
“That’s what ‘Boni’ does, he does his game and enjoys doing it,” Clark said. “It’s important for him to be healthy and fit for us. He’s very dynamic … He’s one of those special players that can change the game in the attacking third at any moment.”
If Saturday’s play once again becomes the norm for Garcia, Houston’s attack and season could be ready to get back to the level it started, which could mean a climb in the standings.
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.