Over the past months, you've seen me make many different points regarding national teams. I've wondered why certain Houston Dynamo players didn't get called up, why they got calls up only to sit on the bench, and why they don't get called up until a day or two before the matches. Now, I'll make another point: that sometimes, getting that call can be a bad thing.
The Dynamo sit in the middle of a two week international break, nestled between the home and away legs of the Eastern Conference finals. They got this far by playing seven matches in 21 days: two regular season matches, a CONCACAF Champions League match, and then four MLS playoff matches. By the back end of that stretch, the whole roster was gassed. You could see it in their play last Saturday against Sporting Kansas City. No matter how much talent and drive you have, that intense of a schedule will get you every time.
With that thinking, the Dynamo were glad to take a scoreless draw out of that first leg, even though you always hope for a win at home. They were tired, they were spent, and they considered themselves due a break. They had a few practice sessions this week, but for the most part, they've been relaxing and recuperating their strength.
Well, most of them have, at least. For Boniek Garcia and Jason Johnson, there is no rest. Both were called up for international duty in friendlies. Johnson's callup isn't so bad, as he hadn't even seen the eighteen in some time, due to his rookie status and the health of the Dynamo roster - but Boniek's isn't nearly as clear-cut.
It's not that he's never been called up - he's been a mainstay in the Honduran national team since before he came to Houston. It's that one of our most important players is going to get more wear and tear, even after having played all but 45 minutes in the three weeks leading up to the break.
For Dynamo fans, it's definitely a mixed bag. On the one hand, we love to see Dynamo players on the big international stages - and with friendlies against Brazil and Ecuador (the latter here at BBVA Compass Stadium next Tuesday), it's hard to imagine a bigger stage, at least where friendlies are concerned. On the other hand, however, it's a case of "no rest for the weary" - he'll be practicing and playing over a period where rest might serve him better, as far as the Dynamo are concerned.
This balancing act is key - international duty is a sign of a player's skill and prestige, yet it also adds more miles to already tired legs. While some - including Boniek's teammate Tally Hall - feel that he can handle the extra workload and still be match-ready come next Saturday, others may fear that the smiling Honduran might end up with an injury that leaves him (and the city of Houston) with a frown.
In the end, all we can do is cheer him on and hope. Hope that he comes through this all right, hope that he'll be rested enough for more work next weekend, and hope that he can help the Dynamo reach their next goal.
What about you? Will you be cheering him on?