HOUSTON – Boniek Garcia has played 857 minutes for the Houston Dynamo this season, and more than half of those – 433 – have come in the last five games.
What changed for the Honduran international?
A new coach, and a familiar one at that.
Since Wade Barrett has taken over coaching duties for the Dynamo after Owen Coyle's departure, the Orange are 1-1-3 in MLS and Garcia has been instrumental in righting the ship. The midfielder has two assists in that five-game span, while logging a full 90 minutes in the last four.
A changing of the guard has been beneficial for Garcia, and for the Dynamo as a whole.
“Wade has changed many things since he became coach. It’s about playing with the ball, which was something we didn’t do under the previous coach,” said Garcia after Thursday’s practice, ahead of Friday's Viernes de Futbol visit to Orlando City (8 pm ET; UniMás, MLS LIVE). “And it’s not to judge that coach, but obviously you guys [media] have seen the change. We’re more compact.”
A more compact team tends to equal better defending. In the last five games – aside from a 3-2 loss to the Portland Timbers – the Dynamo have stifled teams and prevented them from getting into a rhythm.
Another change for Garcia: playing on the left wing in Barrett’s 4-1-4-1 lineup, something the right-footed midfielder took as a task to learn. Garcia has lined up on the left wing two of the last four games.
That could be an understatement. Both of Garcia’s assists came when he was lined up on the left wing.
Coaching changes often alter the moods of teams’ locker rooms and the Dynamo are no different. Sure, playing better helps, but a team’s spirit is also a driving force in that aspect. The Dynamo currently sit last in the Western Conference with 17 points, but insist they aren’t done yet.
“There’s more unity and will to get out from the bottom,” said Garcia on the team’s spirit at the moment. “There’s 17 games left and its possible for us to aspire for fifth or sixth place. I think we’re going to fight for that.”