On a team full of stars, players like Rafael Garcia are important to the potential success, either on the training field or in game action.
What he lacks in star power, Garcia, who attended CS Northridge, makes up for with sheer determination that helped him crack the starting lineup for the first time this year in Sunday’s 4-2 victory over Orlando City SC.
Garcia had played sparingly this season, getting three minutes in the 3-3 draw against Real Salt Lake (Sept. 7), 10 minutes against Columbus (Sept. 3). His first appearance this season came all the way back on Apr. 10.
That would have been enough to frustrate the 27-year-old from Canoga Park.
“Mostly patience,” he said Sunday as one of the keys to earning the starting nod. “It has been a long year, filled with ups and downs, but at the end of the day, I think my hard work and being patient, paid off in the end. It is one match, but it is the first start of the year for me and I was happy to be on the field and help my teammates.
You have some good days, you have some bad days, but at the end of the day, hard work and perseverance pays off.”
Garcia started in midfield and found himself around Brazilian superstar Kaka for the majority of the game.
“He was a hand full,” Garcia said. “My job was to kind of frustrate him by being all over him and kind of did that.”
Garcia went the full 90 minutes and along, with Raul Mendiola, drew high praise from coach Bruce Arena. Mendiola has started two of the last three games for the Galaxy.
“They work real hard in training and they have a great work ethic,” Arena said. “They understand what they can bring to the team and they forced themselves on you. These are the guys, when you pick sides, you don’t mind picking them because they compete so well and they know how to play through mistakes and they give great effort.”
Since Garcia has been with the Galaxy he’s been fortunate to watch and learn from some world class players and he’s relishing every day he’s around them.
“They’re world class players,” Garcia said. “They played in World Cups and they’ve played in big games. More than anything, what rubs off on me is their confidence. How they deal with games and move forward.