Juan Pablo Garcia

Garcia sees first minutes with Mexico

It's been a whirlwind couple of weeks for Juan Pablo Garcia.

On July 1, the former Atlas striker joined Major League Soccer, signing with Chivas USA. Sunday, the 23-year-old debuted with the Mexican national team in its 4-0 rout of Guatemala in a CONCACAF Gold Cup match at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Garcia, who also played for Mexico in Athens 2004, came on for Chivas de Guadalajara winger Alberto Medina in the 67th minute. Although the match was well in hand, Garcia still showed some of the flair that made him a budding star with Atlas and helped him move to the USA's top flight.

Garcia had three opportunities inside Guatemala's penalty area; the first, just minutes after stepping onto the pitch, he sailed well high of Guatemala's goal. Later, he connected on a quick give-and-go with Gerardo Galindo, but Galindo could not get the ball back to a wide-open Garcia on the far post and instead took a shot that Guatemalan 'keeper Miguel Angel Klee stopped. Toward the end of the match, Garcia tried to get past a Guatemalan defender but could not shake him and fired a shot wide of the goal.

"I tried to do what I do best and that's taking on players," Garcia said. "I did but just needed to get past them but I was satisfied with my performance."

Garcia played in what will ultimately go down as a historic match for Mexico.

Striker Jared Borgetti tied Luis Hernandez and Carlos Hermosillo atop the all-time scoring tables for Mexico. Also, Chivas de Guadalajara striker Omar Bravo -- a budding national team star -- scored a goal.

With players like that ahead of him on the depth chart, and with fellow youngsters Medina and Rafael Marquez Lugo also on the team, Garcia is looking to make a good impression in order to get more call-ups to the tricolor.

"I just need minutes. This is my first time playing for the national team and I just need to continue to work hard and earn my minutes," Garcia said. "It's also served me well being here so I could get to know my teammates better."

Next up for Mexico is Jamaica on Wednesday. Garcia said he hopes to play and that the match would be a difficult one.

"It's a complicated match because every team always gets up to play Mexico," Garcia said. "Winning today will really help us next game. I think we'll come out more relaxed than anything our next match."

Garcia was also ecstatic about his new club's victory Saturday.

"They won 5-1!" Garcia said of Chivas USA. "I hope they can keep it up and continue to improve on it."

Luis Bueno is a contirbutor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.

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