Co-captain Rafael Garcia has missed six games this season due to a meniscus tear suffered during CSUN’s preseason match against Cal State Dominguez Hills on Aug. 20, but the senior midfielder remains optimistic and feels he’ll be back before the end of the month.
“I should hopefully be back in a week and a half,” Garcia said last week. “It definitely sucks being sidelined.”
Garcia said he has been making an effort to get back on the pitch as quickly as he can, putting time in the training room, weight room, and recently on the field. The senior is aiming to be back for either the match against Seattle on Sunday or the one versus UC Davis on Sept. 28.
“I feel fit and strong,” Garcia said. “So I don’t think I should miss a beat when I come back.”
CSUN’s record stands at 2-3-1 with its last game ending in a 2-2 tie against Cal State Bakersfield. As Garcia watches the team from the sidelines, he can’t help but feel that the team needs something extra to find wins.
“One of my biggest strengths as a player is my leadership,” he said. “The other guys that have been (filling in my spot) have done a tremendous job, but I feel maybe we lack some leadership. But other than that, I don’t think they miss me too much.”
Rene Anguiano has been filling in for Garcia, but as he recovers from a surgery himself, the junior midfielder would be more than happy to see his co-captain up and playing.
“We need him,” Anguiano said. “He’s one of our best players and we need him back on the team as soon as possible.”
During the summer, forward Edwin Rivas decided to try out for the Guatemalan U-20 national team.
“It started at a tryout down in Bell Gardens,” said Rivas, who has two goals this season. “They said I was good and wanted me to play during the elimination matches, but I couldn’t go because of school.”
Though Rivas missed his opportunity to play during the qualifying rounds, he was given another break. Guatemala made it into the U-20 World Cup, and Rivas was asked to join the team.
“They called me back,” Rivas said.
Rivas trained for two months and took part in the team’s camp, but was cut.
“I was out of shape,” Rivas said, “and I didn’t really do much.”
The Guatemala U-20 team did not make it past the group stage in the World Cup, losing big in its first two matches before defeating Croatia, 1-0 on Aug. 8, in a game of honor.
As soon as he was cut, Rivas began his summer camp with the Matadors for the 2011 season. And despite his disappointment over not making the national team, he learned a few things from his time with Guatemala.
“I learned that I need to stay on top of my game,” Rivas said, “because I could be called up at any time.”
When asked about which of the freshmen have been helping the team the most, CSUN head coach Terry Davila pointed to one man: Yarden Azulay.
The attacking midfielder from Jordan Valley, Israel, who has two goals in 2011, is one of two freshmen Davila has started for the first six games this season.
Because of Azulay’s quick and aggressive nature on the pitch, he has been able to take on multiple tasks.
“He’s all over the place,” Davila said. “If he needs to mark a player, he’ll mark a player. He’s a responsible young man.”