HOUSTON – When Honduras takes the field against France this summer in Brazil in their World Cup opener, Boniek Garcia is practically a shoo-in on the lineup sheet. The Houston Dynamo star is a key player in Los Catratchos’ bid in the world spectacle, after all.
Before that, though, will be three months of preparation that includes international friendlies – first a March 5 match vs. Venezuela in San Pedro Sula three days before the MLS opener against the New England Revolution – and pre-World Cup camps.
While the bright lights of a second World Cup are surely in his future, Garcia, who is expected back from international duty for the season opener, is keeping his focus at home until the time comes.
“My first priority is the club,” Garcia told MLSsoccer.com through a translator. “That’s what I have to do and deal with each and every day. When the national team comes, then that becomes my priority, but until [then] the club remains my main focus.”
Part of that focus will come down to fitness and form, both of which caught up to the Dynamo ironman in 2013.
In the midst of a World Cup qualifying campaign, Garcia admitted that heavy legs because of long minutes and extensive travel played a role in a dip in form that did not see him reach his 2012 level until late in the summer. The strain also contributed to abdominal and Achilles injuries that sidelined the Dynamo winger on separate occasions.
This year, with so much at stake, Garcia knows there is a premium on taking care of himself and he plans to do it the only way he knows how.
“I just try and be very careful and think I’m not going to get injured and be conscious of that at all times,” he said. “For example, when I go in for a tackle, just go in wholeheartedly or else if I don’t do it right you’re going to end up on the losing end.”
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It's all a balancing act that's familiar to all international players as they manage both the mental and physical side of the game on multiple fronts. It can be tough, especially for a player like Garcia.
“His level of fitness and how good he is definitely doesn’t help him when it comes to taking time off,” said goalkeeper Tally Hall. “He’s one of those guys that when you put him on the field he’s going to give 100 percent and his 100 percent is better than the other guys.
“I can understand why he’d say he felt pretty tired, but when it comes down to stepping on the field, he’s ready to go and he’s better than the guy across from him.”
Important to both outfits, Garcia knows he has to balance the two effectively to make this the banner year it could be. While the summer stage in Brazil, understandably, looms large, Garcia won't change a thing.
“No one takes an off day because they have a national team game in a few weeks,” Hall said. “On this team, everyone here, when they’re here with the Dynamo, they’re 100 percent committed.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.