Saturday afternoon’s game in rainy Portland not only had the excitement of San Jose’s star striker Chris Wondolowski tie the Major League Soccer’s “Most Goals in a Single Season” record that had stood since 1996 but also saw San Jose Earthquakes’ rookie Sam Garza’s return to the pitch after being out injured for much of the latter half of the season.
Garza, who was picked 6th overall in the 2012 Super Draft, had seen the pitch only five other times before this last Saturday, his most recent previous appearance being one minute when Colorado traveled to Buck Shaw on August 25th. The on-field highlight of his rookie campaign came against Chivas USA on May 13, when he provided the game tying assist on an Alan Gordon header.
When asked after the Timbers match how it felt getting back on the field, the Generation Adidas player said, “It was good. Getting a couple of injuries during this season has been tough but basically have been all over the place with that but it is good to be back and especially for Wondo to tie the record. I was hoping he would get it. It is a blessing to be here and to be a part of that history, so I couldn’t ask for a better first year.”
Having played only 101 minutes this year due to injury, it left the midfielder out of UC Santa Barbara plenty of time to watch and learn from the other players. When asked if he was glad that the Quakes drafted him, he emphatically said, “Oh yeah definitely! It has been a crazy year. And I don’t think anyone expected it from this team but we just fight for 90 minutes and it has been fun. I think I’m spoiled by being drafted by this team because I get to watch the best in the league. So it’s been fun, it’s been a great experience and I’m just learning as I go.”
Now, with the MLS playoffs starting Sunday for the Earthquakes, Garza will hope he is able to help his team win the MLS Cup.