That was the term Galaxy head coach Curt Onalfo used post-match to describe the effort of midfielder Rafael Garcia at right back.
It’s an apt description. There were moments during last Sunday’s defeat to the Portland Timbers when Garcia seemed to perform athletic feats out of sheer will.
His lung busting sprint across the pitch and slide tackle to keep Fanendo Adi from icing the game was the play of the match, but the 28-year-old had other moments: A floating cross in the first half careening towards the dangerous Adi was extinguished when the 5’6” Garcia out jumped and outmuscled the 6’4” forward, using his noggin to bat away the ball before collapsing to the turf in pain.
And yet on the Portland goal, Garcia was late to recognize the danger of the Timbers counter-attack, and as a result his poor positioning gave Diego Valeri a valley of space to dribble into, as the Argentine maestro laid the ball off to the other Diego for a tap-in.
Not that I blame Rafa. Because he’s not a right back.
In previous times, Garcia had been deployed at the right back position in emergency situations, with moderate success. So when the news came out during pre-season that Garcia was being utilized where Robbie Rogers was usually stationed, it seemed like a logical, worthwhile experiment.
However after months of conditioning, has the experiment yielded significant results? In the modern game, converting someone to a fullback requires the player to possess certain attributes, namely a healthy dose of pace. (One reason why wingers tend to adjust well to the transition)
But Garcia isn’t a winger, he’s a destroyer. It’s a different job, with a different skill set and different expectations for the position. (And by the way, he’s a fine destroyer at that)
However it’s not certain Garcia possesses the defensive instincts to handle the responsibility, or the athletic tools to mask the former. We also have yet to see Rafa contribute in the attack.
Which is a shame, because the So Cal native has really put it all out there with his performances. His growing pains have to tug on the heartstrings of the Galaxy faithful, watching one of their heroes struggle at an unfamiliar spot.
Not all hope is lost though. With the LA Galaxy backline currently in shambles, Rafa has got a few more games to find another gear. Myself as well as the likes of Corner of the Galaxy have been high on Los Dos defender Nathan Smith, but the coaching staff appears set to give Rafa a run at the spot.
Hopefully Garcia puts in a solid performance vs. RSL.