HOUSTON – Heading into the season it seemed a foregone conclusion that the Houston Dynamo would have a hole to fill in the center of their formation come Gold Cup time.
After all, midfielder Luis Garrido has been a mainstay with the Honduras national team with 26 appearances and two starts in last year’s World Cup. So when Honduras head coach Jorge Luis Pinto named his Gold Cup roster and Garrido was not included, it provided a bit of a shock.
“I didn’t have a chance to talk to [Pinto] at all. The last time I spoke with him was after the game in Brazil, and he came over and told me, ‘I want you to be ready and available as quickly as possible, so I can call you when that moment comes,’” Garrido told MLSsoccer.com through a translator. “I’m obviously disappointed because I didn’t get a chance to be called up; but I promise to work hard to see if I can get future call-ups.”
For the first time since before last year’s tournament in Brazil, Honduras will play without their pit bull in the midfield. Outside of sitting out three games due to a slight injury, Garrido has been a constant in Dynamo head coach Owen Coyle’s lineup and has acquitted himself well to what the new boss wants.
“Yes, that goes without saying,” head coach Owen Coyle said when asked if he was surprised at the exclusion. “He’s been a permanent fix with the Honduras squad. I can only think maybe he’s looking at one or two other things … but knowing what he’s got with Luis and I think that can be the only thing for it.”
The fact that Honduras are already missing midfielder Roger Espinoza, Garrido’s exclusion is even more puzzling. Garrido was involved in friendlies to tune up for the summer tournament, including playing against Brazil.
In addition to being surprised, Garrido did not receive an explanation.
“This is football, and this is something you have to take with maturity and professionalism,” Garrido said. “These things take time, so now my focus really shifts to the Dynamo and my focus is clarified here.”
The snub is a blow to Garrido but will help the Dynamo. Missing fellow Honduran Boniek Garcia, who was called up despite suffering an injury against Brazil, Houston will also lose Jamaicans Giles Barnes and Jermaine Taylor, who will join the Reggae Boyz after Friday’s game against the Chicago Fire. Defender DaMarcus Beasley could also be called up for knockout stage duty for the US national team.
Having Garrido around will help stem those concerns. And while Coyle feels for Garrido, he’s happy to have him in Houston as he’s challenged the young midfielder to expand his game.
“I’m trying to do things that are new every day and trying to improve because the team needs it,” Garrido said. “I think the biggest thing is the man-to-man coverage, and Owen wants that to be a little tighter. It’s been an adjustment as it relates to everything, and I am just trying to learn as much as possible.”
Garrido said there has been no talk of a possible knockout stage call-up, but he is holding out hope that could be the case. In the meantime, the snub means he’ll have a long summer in Houston, something neither he nor anyone else was expecting.
“He’s had a good season so far, and his job is to mark some of the best players in the league, and for me he does it maybe better than anyone else could,” said Barnes. “I think it’s very unfortunate for Honduras, but it’s very fortunate for the Dynamo.”