LA Galaxy Insider Year in Review: Rafael Garcia
Now that the 2013 season is over, LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano will look back on the season for every player who was on the club’s roster at some point during the season.
The LA Galaxy Insider Year in Review will begin with players who made the least number of appearances for the club in all official competitions over the course of the year, starting with Brian Perk and Bryan Gaul, who did not make any appearances for the first team this year, and concluding with midfielder Marcelo Sarvas who played in a team-best 42 games for LA this year. There will also be an evaluation of head coach and general manager Bruce Arena and his moves at the conclusion of the list.
We will have one or two evaluations per day and focus on what each player did well and what challenges they faced in 2013 as well as a select thought from the player on their performance and an overall assessment of their season from myself.
APPEARANCES IN ALL OFFICIAL COMPETITIONS FOR THE GALAXY: GP: 16 (Nine in MLS Regular Season, Five in CONCACAF Champions League, one in MLS Cup Playoffs and one in U.S. Open Cup); GS: 5 (Three in CONCACAF Champions League, one in MLS and one in U.S. Open Cup); G: 0; A: 0
APPERANCES IN GUINNESS INTERNATIONAL CHAMPIONS CUP: GP: 2
RESERVE LEAGUE APPEARANCES: GP: 10; GS: 10
HIGHLIGHTS: Rafael Garcia continued to make strides forward in his second year as a professional he developed into a consistent presence on the Galaxy’s game day roster. The 24-year-old showed that he could be relied upon in a pinch when he was able to provide a confident 80 minute shift after Juninho was sent off during LA’s 1-0 defeat to the New York Red Bulls on May 19. With that performance in mind as well as a strong showing in U.S. Open Cup play in May, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena gave Garcia his first career MLS start against the Portland Timbers on June 19 as he filled in for a suspended Marcelo Sarvas. Throughout his 89 minutes of action, Garcia was a force in the midfield, breaking up attacks as the Galaxy held the Timbers to a scoreless draw. Though that was his only start of the season in league play, Garcia once again showcased his meddle in the CONCACAF Champions League, starting three of LA’s four Group Stage games of the 2013-14 tournament, helping lead the club to the quarterfinals for a third straight year.
CHALLENGES: Garcia’s tenacity and ability to break up plays as a defensive midfielder is well documented, but as he continues to develop into a well-rounded asset, he’ll need to refine his passing ability. During his appearance against the Red Bulls and his start against Portland, the second-year midfielder struggled to create much in terms of the attack as the Galaxy attack stalled in both matches. The 24-year-old also struggled during one of LA’s lowest points of the season, the 4-0 defeat to Isidro Metapán in the Champions League. On that late October night in El Salvador, Garcia and the rest of the Galaxy midfield struggled to contain a hard charging Metapan side that jumped out to a four goal lead in the first half.
HIS THOUGHTS: “I felt comfortable this year. It was a step in the right direction from my rookie season where I didn’t really contribute. This year, I felt good, I got a few chances and I like to think that I took advantage of those opportunities. There’s always room for improvement and we’re looking forward to that and moving forward. [Being a frequent member of the 18] was a huge boost of confidence and when you have the confidence of your coaches and teammates that goes a long way and reassures you that you can contribute when you’re called upon.”
OVERVIEW: Garcia’s strong second year has only solidified his place in Bruce Arena’s squad for the foreseeable future. Of the Galaxy’s strong 2012 draft class, Garcia showed the most progress in his second season as he emerged as a legitimate option in central midfield; not only in cup competitions, but MLS play as well. Over the course of the season, Garcia carved out a regular place in the Galaxy’s game day roster which bodes well as he looks to become a more consistent contributor in 2014.
POLL: How would you rate Rafael Garcia’s 2013 season with the Galaxy?
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com