CARSON, Calif. – Fitness concerns with midfielders Juninho and Michael Stephens have forced Rafael Garcia into a starting midfield role at the start of the preseason and the second-year midfielder has wasted no time impressing..
In LA’s victories over the U.S. Under-17 national team and Los Angeles Blues, Garcia has been extremely influential in two first half appearances. As he looks to build upon a rookie season that saw him make a total of five appearances in all competitions, Garcia admits that he is taking whatever chances that he gets in stride.
“It’s been going good. I’m happy to jump in and help out. I’m just working hard and trying to do my thing,” said Garcia. “The team has been helping me out…with pointers here and there, talking from the back line and a few little things, but it’s been coming along well and I’m happy to get the minutes.”
During LA’s opening preseason matches, the second-year midfielder has been partnered alongside midfielder Marcelo Sarvas, who has provided an offensive presence that balances Garcia’s grit and energy.
“We work well together, he obviously brings the experience and I bring the energy so it works well,” said Garcia. “He brings experience so [I learn] when to go on certain runs, when to hold the ball, when to play long.”
But what has Garcia gained in these first two preseason matches? “Mostly fitness,” he admits, but also plenty of “confidence and motivation.”
“Anytime that you get to start a game whether it’s a practice game or a real competition, it’s always an honor,” said Garcia. “For me, I just look at it as I have to keep working hard and when my number gets called, I just have to learn from these opportunities.”