Boniek García might be one of the Houston Dynamo's most talented and experienced players, but he sure is having a tough time getting on the stat sheet this season.
García has made 18 starts this year, but he hasn't scored since the season opener and his only assist came on May 3. For a player of his quality and CV, the struggles are puzzling and something he and Houston hope to correct when they host the Philadelphia Union on Friday night (8 p.m. CT; TICKETS).
"I am a little bit frustrated," García told MLSsoccer.com through a translator. "I haven't done anything differently. It's just the way things have played out this year. I've put in assists, or what I thought were going to be assists that don't really play out. I put on shots that don't get to become goals, and it's just the way it's been. It's been a bit of an unlucky streak."
Since arriving in 2012, García has been counted on to be a playmaker for the Dynamo. Skilled on the ball and creative in his passing, he has the ability to be a force on the right wing. At his best, he has been a player who can put pressure on the opponent with his dribbling and up-and-down play.
But whereas he was as surprise commodity when he first arrived, head coach Dominic Kinnear says, he is no longer sneaking up on teams.
"I think he gets fouled a lot now," Kinnear said. "He's not a secret anymore and teams are trying their best to stop him. We're not complaining because good players get fouled, but I think a lot of teams try to impede his progress when he gets closer to the goal.
"The guy's a good player and we know that. You want to see him closer to goal. He is in and around it and I think the more possession we have it gives the guys more chances to get closer to the goal."
While his production's down, Garcia did help the Dynamo earn a penalty kick in last weekend's loss to the Seattle Sounders. When a player is in a slump, even little things like that are signs of hope.
"There are 12 games left and I have plenty of soccer to play and I have a lot of opportunities to make up for all those games where I wasn't really as offensive as I was in the previous year-and-a-half with the team," Garcia said. "It's going to be me a matter of making the effort and being more offensive-minded going forward."
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.