By TYLER GRAY
SANDY, Utah. - It had been one year and 11 days since Olmes Garcia last scored a goal. Just to prove a point, he scored two.
Real Salt Lake scored once from Luke Mulholland and a brace from Olmes Garcia to negate Hassoun Camara’s first-half strike for the 10-man Montreal Impact. The visiting squad couldn’t muster enough to threaten the home side after a red card to midfielder Issey Nakajima-Farran in the 65th minute, and RSL secured the 3-1 victory on Thursday evening at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Garcia was all smiles after the game, at one point lifting RSL defender Abdoulie Mansally off the ground in the locker room. The exuberant 21-year old had scored the game-winning goal and then iced the match with a second in stoppage-time.
“He was fantastic – threatening and quality,” head coach Jeff Cassar said. “The two goals were world-class. The final ball to him was fantastic. It’s what we want from him. He gave a fantastic performance, and he also worked very hard on the defensive end. Just a great night from him.”
Garcia’s first goal was perfectly executed. He made a well-timed run towards the near post and rose in anticipation of Morales’ cross, nodding the ball into the net. The relief was evident in his face as he and Joao Plata ran to the corner flag to celebrate together with the team.
RSL scored the opening goal in the third minute thanks to midfielder Luke Mulholland but the early strike was canceled out when Hassoun Camara tucked a perfect ball inside the far post, tying the match at 1-1 in the 31st minute. Garcia came on as a second half substitute and scored his opening goal of the season giving RSL the lead once again in the 70th minute.
Garcia’s wasn’t satisfied with just one however and he put the match out of reach in the 93rd minute when Morales set him up for the second time in the match, this time scooping the ball into space. Garcia took a touch and blasted his shot into the far netting securing the three points for RSL.
“I’m so happy, because [Olmes] Garcia, in the second half, he scored two goals,” Morales said. “We need it more than him, because we need those guys coming in the second half off the bench and make the impact.”
It had been a long season for the young forward and the frustration was building, but Garcia stuck with it and the coaching staff maintained their faith in him.
“[Garcia] has been working extremely hard – we’ve been doing a lot of finishing,” 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.”
RSL has been missing Alvaro Saborio since he broke his fifth metatarsal on May 29th while with the Costa Rican National Team and the team was desperate for more scoring. Garcia had bounced in and out of the lineup but finally made an impact when his teammates needed him to.
“I think it’s difficult sometimes for our younger guys because getting in and out of the lineup in more of a veteran team, a team with a little bit more of a core to your team,” midfielder Ned Grabavoy said. “But we see how much they work in training and we see how much they care. It’s great to see a young guy rewarded like that.”
RSL hope that this brace is a sign of things to come. As for Garcia, he kept things in perspective.
“The important thing is that I kept working, conscious of everything and I’m grateful that I was able to return to scoring today,” Garcia said.