Games: 26 appearances (25 starts, 2150 minutes)
Tackles: 1.7 per game
Interceptions: 1.8 per game
Clearances: 1.8 per game
Garza joined Atlanta United on a one-year loan from Tijuana of Liga MX, having spent much of the previous two seasons sidelined with a serious hip injury. Looking to recharge a career that seemed to be badly stalled, Garza jumped at this opportunity with relish. In doing so, he earned himself an All-Star Game appearance, which unfortunately ended after just a couple of minutes with a minor shoulder separation.
What went right this season?
Garza was the immediate first choice at left back in Tata Martino’s aggressive high press system and shone. He quickly put paid to any doubts that he would be able to move fast enough to fulfill both the offensive and defensive responsibilities of a fullback in that system. He was consistently the more mobile of the two fullbacks on the pitch, and was a key part of the very strong left side that the Five Stripes regularly confounded opponents with.
What does he need to improve on?
Tactically, Garza has a very strong grasp of what he is expected to do. Technically, he may need to work on his crossing, which was a weakness of the team as a whole all year. Defensively he also looks good, although with Gonzalez-Pirez also covering the left side, he was never badly exposed.
What is his role for next season?
With the loan coming to an end, Garza’s status is very much up in the air. He has made it clear that he would like to stay in Atlanta if possible, but that will be up to Tijuana. In that regard, the fact that his season was interrupted by the shoulder injury, and then ended early with a hamstring problem, may lead the Xolos to conclude that he is injury-prone and therefore an expense they don’t need. We shall see what transpires. If he does stay with Atlanta, it is safe to say that he will be the presumptive starter at left back.
Overall Player Grade: B+