Real Salt Lake needs Olmes Garcia's breakout to continue
Sandy • Fans and the front office alike could definitely get used to seeing Olmes Garcia shimmy and shake in celebration more often. In a season in which all-time leading scorer Alvaro Saborio remains sidelined with a broken foot sustained in late May, Real Salt Lake has waited for another option to emerge.
One goal makes a world of difference. Two goals in 30 minutes may theoretically spell the start of something. And RSL needs it.
If Garcia can figure out a way to build on what he started Thursday night against the Montreal Impact, the suddenly compressed Major League Soccer schedule might have to factor the 21-year-old Colombian into its scouting report a bit more than anticipated.
The second-year forward who replaced Robbie Findley in the 59th minute snapped a year-long goal-less streak with his brace against Montreal on Thursday. The last time Garcia was on a score sheet was July 13, 2013, when RSL topped FC Dallas 3-0 on the road.
"He's been working extremely hard," RSL coach Jeff Cassar said. "He's been looking brighter and brighter, so it was just a fantastic spark when he came into the game. He's been doing it for the last two weeks in practice, so it was good to see it on the field."
Joao Plata has proved himself this year. The RSL forward in his second year with the club has a team-high eight goals despite having dealt with two hamstring injuries within the first four months of the season. With Saborio in a walking boot until at least the end of August while his broken foot heals, the responsibility of stepping up in his place has fallen on the trio of Garcia, Findley and Devon Sandoval. Different forwards with different skill sets, the trio has been searching for the back of the net in 2014.
Garcia's breakthrough 30 minutes showcased his abilities, but also showed that he can make an impact as a substitute taking advantage of a tired back line as he did against Montreal.
"I think we're happy anytime we see some young guys be rewarded a little bit," midfielder Ned Grabavoy said. "And to see [Garcia] be rewarded and have two great finishes is a great thing for us â¦ we see how much [younger players] work in training and we see how much they care."
The investment RSL made in Garcia was a hefty one when it bought the young striker from Deportes Quinido in Feb. 2013, and the coaching staff knew it would take time for Garcia to read the game and find his niche. In 2013, he displayed his abilities with some world-class goals and top-end speed, but that tapered off.
It'd been over 12 months since Garcia found the back of the net in league play. But Thursday could be the start of something.
After his first goal," midfielder Javier Morales said, "he got comfy."
If Garcia can maintain his goal-scoring form and comfiness, the difficult stretch ahead could be softened.
Red Bulls at RSL
O Wednesday, 7 p.m.
TV • ESPN2