At 5-foot-7, Luis Garrido would not be expected to be a menacing figure. After a week of training with the Houston Dynamo, however, he is proof that packaging means little.
The Honduran showed from his first session that fear is not a part of the equation in his game. A hard-tackling midfielder that will sweep the area in front of the back four, he has lived up to his nickname, La Fiera, which translates to the Beast.
“If you watch him here in practice he’s so aggressive getting after balls, so that name will fit him well,” said center back Jermaine Taylor. “No joke, overall, he’s a good hard-tackling guy. Bringing him here on the pitch, and come Sunday I think he’ll help us a lot.”
Garrido and fellow newcomer DaMarcus Beasley – who said Thursday he is ready to play with his paperwork taken care of – have been the talk of Dynamo camp since their signing last week. Their roles and availability for Sunday’s home meeting with D.C. United (7 p.m. CT; TICKETS) have also been topics for debate.
“I’m ready [to play], but it’s not my decision,” Garrido said Thursday through a translator.
That decision is up to head coach Dominic Kinnear, who confirmed Friday both players are fit for selection.
When Garrido was signed, the Dynamo boss raved over his tough style of play, and the week of training has done nothing to move him off that stance.
“He gets tight to people and gets in some good tackles,” Kinnear said. “I’ve seen him play enough to where I know he can do it for us.”
Kinnear’s confirmation is music to the ears of those who follow the club. Without knowing exactly how they’ll be deployed – the coach did not tip his hand – the pair should be a boost to a struggling defense, especially Garrido.
He could provide the stabilizing effect to a defense that has sorely lacked their usual feisty demeanor. That will not be the case with the 23-year-old, and it is something that the Honduran said he takes pride in.
“It brings it back to the old type of sweeper,” Taylor said. “Back then, the old type of sweeper was where you put guys in front of us to sweep. He’s pretty much doing that for us. It helps us at the back four in terms of balls not coming in to us very often. With Luis in front of us he’s going to clean up that dirty [stuff].”
Garrido’s addition could also be just what the doctor ordered against a D.C. team that Taylor said they showed “too much respect” to in a 2-0 loss May 21.
If Garrido is in fact slotted next to Ricardo Clark in the midfield, Sunday could be the first game together for a rugged duo that can restore some of Houston’s fierce nature.
“Bringing that guy with his aggressiveness in front of us that’s going to help,” Taylor said. “It says, ‘Hey, this is what we need, guys who step up and win some tackles and some one-on-one battles.’ I think that translates to the group.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.