Entering the 2015 MLS season, winger Boniek Garcia was primed to be one of the attacking leaders of the Houston Dynamo, but a string of injuries derailed that opportunity. Now, as he gears up for his fifth MLS season, Garcia is ready to make amends and help drive the Houston Dynamo back to the playoffs.
The obvious step one for Garcia is staying on the field. Of the Dynamo’s 34 games in the 2015 season, the Honduran international played in 23 of them but only logged 1,460 minutes, a season-low for his time in MLS.
Garcia suffered an ankle injury which during international duty with Honduras in June and was later hampered by an adductor injury in July. Even in an injury-ridden season, Garcia was able to notch three goals and five assists.
“First of all, I need to be healthy and fit,” Garcia told MLSsoccer.com via telephone of his focus heading into the new season. “Last year I wasn’t all that good physically since I had a sequence of injuries.
“This preseason is helping me tremendously. We’re running more and with time I’m going to feel better physically to play at full force.”
The Dynamo have had a grueling preseason regimen, and it’s how second-year Dynamo head coach Owen Coyle likes it.
“Owen runs a different type of training that is more demanding than what is required,” said Garcia. “Also, in this preseason we need to play at full force and bring it.”
All the Dynamo players will have to ‘bring it’ if they want to earn playing time. This past offseason the team retooled the roster and added depth and talent, including midfielder Cristian ‘Chaco’ Maidana, who recorded 26 assists in his two years with the Philadelphia Union, and versatile attacker Andrew Wenger. Adding those players to a mix that already includes Giles Barnes and Ricardo Clark and it’s clear that competition for places will be fierce. But too much depth and talent has never been a problem for a head coach.
“There’s competition for places and that’s how it has to be,” Coyle told MLSsoccer.com. “They [players] realize, ‘hey I need to compete and perform well because on the bench there’s somebody ready with real quality who wants to take my place’.”
Garcia has taken note.
“This preseason we’re stronger in various positions,” said Garcia. “And we’re going be at the disposal of Owen and where he puts us that can better help the team.”
Coyle has also changed things up tactically this preseason and according to Garcia, ‘possession’ has been the mantra.
“This current preseason has been totally different,” said Garcia. “There’s an emphasis on keeping the ball, finishing scoring opportunities, but the most important thing is going to be keeping the ball in possession.”
Possession of the ball. Positional battles. And a healthy Boniek. Three ingredients that could help the Dynamo return to the playoffs after three years away.
Follow Jesus Acevedo Jr. (@jhacevedo) on Twitter.