Owen Coyle played the matchups against Orlando City SC.
In theory, Garcia would find himself in more space, with more freedom to create. As turned out, the 30-year-old Honduran struggled to adapt to an unfamiliar position and new responsibilities.
“It’s obviously difficult. I’m not used to playing with my back to goal,” Garcia told MLSsoccer.com through a translator. “Right now it’s one of those that’s a good challenge. I trust I’ll quickly adapt and make the best of it.
“Obviously my preference is to play down the wing, but that’s where Owen needs me right now, and I’m more than available to do whatever he asks me to do.”
With Garcia manning the middle of the frontline, Leonel Miranda was inserted on the right flank. Houston experimented with the lineup in the preseason, most notably against Orlando City when Garcia was a menace to the expansion club with, as he put it, “more freedom to move around.”
It remains to to be seen what Coyle will do against Galaxy on Saturday at StubHub Center (9:30 pm CT, ROOT SPORTS).
“We played him there at preseason and it worked very well. It never got the same effect it had in preseason,” Coyle said. “That’s what happens game to game. Sometimes it comes off and other times it won’t. Sometimes you’ve got to look at your opponent and look to exploit it.”
Against the Lions, Houston failed to notch a shot on target and were shutout. Part of the problem seemed to be that Garcia and Barnes tend to drift to the same parts of the field, making spacing an issue.
“It’s been difficult to get adjusted to playing with Giles in this position, even though we’ve been playing together for two years or more,” Garcia said. “It’s one of the things that’s going to take time to adjust to and hopefully with time and continuity we’ll be able to make it work.”
Barnes has no doubt that Garcia can get the hang of operating with him up top.
“There’s kinks,” Barnes said. “He’s played wide ever since I’ve known him. He plays wide for his country, but he’s got the ability and mentality to play anywhere on the pitch. Good players can play together, and I like to think I’m a good player and Boniek’s a good player. He’s a good player, he’ll get it.”
Coyle wouldn’t tip his hand as to whether the move will be permanent or not. It will not be employed March 28 against the Colorado Rapids, however, as Garcia, along with Luis Garrido, has been called up by Honduras for a Gold Cup playoff home-and-home series against French Guiana.
With or without Garcia, it’s clear the Dynamo won’t be afraid to change the status quo as they search for the sweet spot in their attack.
“We feel like we have some great players and some great pieces it’s just getting those pieces in the right spots on the field,” said Dynamo captain Brad Davis. “It’s about finding the balance in that position and that comes with time and practice. We just have to find that proper balance of getting everybody in the right spots and moving the ball around correctly and I think we can be successful.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.