CARSON, Calif. — Having joined the LA Galaxy via the Supplemental Draft, Rafael Garcia's chances of developing into a viable first-team option may have seemed difficult.
Luckily for Garcia, he has the reserve division on his side.
Garcia on game-winning goal vs Seattle
The Galaxy's second selection in January's Supplemental Draft, Garcia has made a strong impression in training and reserve team matches.
"I love him, I have to say," Galaxy assistant coach Curt Onalfo said. "I’ve always liked him. I loved him in college and was just glad we got him."
Onalfo, who coaches the reserves, played Garcia for the final 30 minutes in Monday's reserve match against the Sounders at The Home Depot Center. Garcia responded by scoring the game's only goal with a diving header in the 90th minute.
"Any time I step on the field I try and make the best of it," Garcia said. "There's a lot of good players so we're going to have to share some time for a while. My mentality is to help the team in any way I can help and get those points."
While the reserve side is a good spot for him and fellow youngsters to develop, it's also an opportunity to keep first-team players fresh and at times that can take precedence.
"Sometimes it’s difficult for me and for him because we’ve got other guys who need to get minutes,” Onalfo said. “In the case [Monday] Sarvas needed minutes which meant he was coming off the bench. He deserves to be on the field. My message to him was to make the most of your opportunity. Sometimes playing 30 minutes is more important than playing 90 and certainly that was the case [Monday]."
Rookie Rundown - Rafael Garcia
In Garcia, Onalfo sees a player who could develop into a solid contributor.
Even though he has the backing of his coaches, Garcia said he’s simply working hard and keeping his sights set on the near future.
"I'm not getting too carried away," Garcia said. "Whenever I get the chance just do well and whatever Curt and the coaching staff decided to do with me, I'll respect. I'm just working hard, trying to make a name for myself."
Luis Bueno covers the LA Galaxy for MLSsoccer.com