SANDY, Utah – Coaches, teammates and fans have all heard that there could be something special with rookie forward Olmes Garcia. He only affirmed those notions with a world-class strike against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday afternoon.
But in his own words, hitting those curlers from outside the box may not even be the best trait he brings to the field. So, what is?
"My happiness," he said through translator and teammate Sebastián Velásquez Wednesday after training. "You see me play, and I am always smiling out on the field and that makes me a special player."
While that may be true – anyone that has been around Garcia for any extended amount of time notices his infectious smile – it is much easier to be happy when living out a dream.
"That was my dream, to come in and score a goal, and thank God I was able to come in and score a goal like that," he said.
It was also special for him because it gave him a chance to honor a friend of his, Alejandra Ramirez, as he ripped off his jersey to show a screen print of her on his shirt after scoring.
"It was a good friend of mine back in Colombia," he explained. "She was an athlete and we became good friends before she got sick. But then, unfortunately, the disease [a form of cancer] took over her life and she died."
So now that he has his first career MLS goal, where does the promising young striker go from here? That is easy, he explained: back to work, especially as he is still trying to learn coach Jason Kreis' demanding style of play.
"I am here to work hard and do whatever the coaches ask of me," he said. "It takes time. It is more about adjusting to the system. But the coaches explain it well and as time goes by, it starts to come more naturally."
Kreis agreed that there is still much to be learned for the 20-year-old.
"I think that individual play is great," said Kreis of the goal. "Do I think that there could have been more plays in that game and perhaps should have been plays in that game? Yeah, so I think there is still a lot of improvement needed on his part.
"I hope that we all don’t feel that he just scored one goal so his job is done because there is a whole lot more left to be done."
And Garcia is determined to do it. With a smile.