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Real Salt Lake's Olmes Garcia, right, of Colombia, receives a yellow card from referee Drew Fischer after he removed his jersey in celebration after scoring a goal against the Vancouver Whitecaps during the second half of an MLS soccer game in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Saturday April 13, 2013. Garcia removed his jersey to reveal a t-shirt bearing a photograph of his friend Alejandra, who, according to the team, died in December. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck)
Real Salt Lake’s Olmes Garcia still has work to do
MLS » More work is still to come, but 20-year-old’s goal at Vancouver gives taste of what he can do.
First Published Apr 18 2013 12:32 pm • Last Updated Jul 07 2013 11:34 pm

The reviews are in.

Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis called it a "wonder goal" and an "individual moment of brilliance." Major League Soccer nominated it for Goal of the Week. And RSL midfielder Sebastian Velasquez, who watched it on TV at home, jumped up and down on his bed when he saw his teammate’s bending shot sail past the fingertips of the goalkeeper and curve in to the top corner of the net last weekend.

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"You score a goal like that," Velasquez said, "there’s something special about you."

In just a few months with the club, and in limited action with the first team, RSL forward Olmes Garcia has impressed with his ability and promise. But he and his coach know there’s work left to be done to make sure his spectacular goal last weekend in a 1-1 draw with Vancouver is more than a just one-hit wonder.

"Do I think there could have been more plays in that game and perhaps should have been more plays in that game?" Kreis said this week. "Yeah, so I think there is still a lot of improvement needed on his part. I hope that we all don’t feel that he scored one goal so his job is done, because there’s a whole lot more left to be done."

Garcia has wowed fans and teammates with his speed and skill on the ball.

"As soon as I saw him take a couple touches on the ball," Velasquez said, "I knew he was something special."

But Kreis noted it was Garcia’s work off the ball, chasing down a long pass from RSL defender Lovel Palmer, winning possession and then settling into an open spot on the field, that set up his first MLS goal.

More and more, Garcia said, he has begun to feel comfortable with Kreis’ system, which often gives newcomers — rookies and veterans alike — troubles early on.

"It takes time," Garcia said. "But the coach explains it so well that as time goes by, you get natural with it."


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With four other forwards on the roster, RSL officials have said they view Garcia as something of a long-term project. Garcia, a 20-year-old Colombian who left Deportes Quindio to sign a five-year deal with Salt Lake, isn’t shying away from the challenge.

"It was a dream [to sign with RSL]," he said, with Velasquez acting as translator. "It was a great opportunity to move forward. I had the chance to come here, and I’m here to work hard."

afalk@sltrib.com

Twitter: @aaronfalk



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