The pair were among several absentees as the Dynamo tied with the Colorado Rapids last Saturday, but are available for selection on Saturday night as Owen Coyle’s side face the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field (9 p.m. CT, ROOT SPORTS).
Their international duty paid off with a 4-3 aggregate win over French Guiana in a two-legged tie as Los Catrachos recovered from a 3-1 first leg deficit on Sunday in San Pedro Sula. Winning the qualifier means Honduras’s Gold Cup campaign will kick off against the defending champion U.S. on July 7 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco. Panama and Haiti round out the rest of Group A.
“Definitely relieved, I think that’s a good way to describe it. The game in Guiana wasn’t our best showing, so fortunately we were able to come home and take care of business there,” García told HoustonDynamo.com through a translator.
His training schedule allowed him to watch the second half of last week’s draw with the Rapids at BBVA Compass Stadium. “I think it was a good result overall; I think we could have done better, we didn’t really finish in the last half of the field but now we’ve got to put that behind us and focus on Seattle,” the playmaker said.
In his fourth season in Houston the 29-year-old is being deployed by Coyle at times higher up the field and more centrally than in the past. “He’s trying me out in different positions, middle of the midfield and further up, he’s just trying to see how else I can contribute and make the team better,” García said. Strikers Giles Barnes and Will Bruin joined in 2012 and 2011 respectively so García already knows them well, helping the on-field interactions.
“We already have a relationship going. Definitely as the games progress and I become more familiar and more comfortable with the positions it will develop,” he said.
Garrido’s main job is essentially unchanged: break up attacks and circulate the ball in defensive midfield. “I like to carry out orders — whatever the coach likes me to do on the field, I like to carry those orders out. I always look to hold on to the ball and be aggressive on the field, but beyond that it’s pretty much whatever the coach wants me to do,” the man nicknamed La Fiera — The Beast — told HoustonDynamo.com via a translator.
What is different this year is the greater number of Spanish-speakers on the roster, with new arrivals Memo Rodriguez, Raúl Rodríguez, Leonel Miranda and Mexico striker Erick “Cubo” Torres landing in Houston in the summer.
“It definitely helps. Especially as it relates to being able to communicate with the rest of the team. Boniek understands English a little bit better than I do, and then Raúl speaks it and understands it, so they can become a bridge, so to speak, between us and the guys who don’t speak Spanish. It’s a good community and we spend free time together off the field,” Garrido said.
Boniek agrees. “It’s hugely important not only for me but for the team itself to have players who get along on the field and off it. It is kind of a community for us, we hang out together off the field so that’s something that benefits not only me. When I came here I didn’t have anyone, really, to hang out with, and now we have other players who benefit from that community. So it’s a good thing for us,” he said.
Especially after a tiring week of international games and travel, Coyle has to manage Garrido’s enthusiasm so he is at peak fitness for matches. “He wants to do every minute of every training session,” the head coach said.
He knows the Dynamo will have to be at their best against a side that is annually one of the Western Conference favorites. Last year Sigi Schmid’s men finished top in the regular season to claim the Supporters' Shield but lost on away goals in the Western Conference final to eventual MLS Cup victors the Los Angeles Galaxy.
The Dynamo lost 2-0 last August on CenturyLink Field’s artificial turf. “Of course the surface is different from grass, there’s no getting away from it, the game sometimes plays differently in terms of how the passing and movement and the ball needs to be worked to feet. It’s something that you look at, of course you do, but we’ll prepare as we always do for a tough game against a quality side,” Coyle said.
Missing injured U.S. star Clint Dempsey and forward Obafemi Martins, Seattle drew 0-0 away to FC Dallas last weekend. “Seattle’s obviously a good place with great fans, they’ve always been a difficult team to play against at home. But ours is a team that also has its own qualities, its own talent, so hopefully we’ll be able to play at a pretty even level with them,” Garrido said.
Tom Dart is a contributing writer to HoustonDynamo.com and HoustonDashSoccer.com. Former editor and reporter for The Times of London and reporter for SI.com, Dart currently freelances for The Guardian.