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Med City FC forward Garcia hopes pro football will be next – Post Bulletin

On Wednesday, Andres Garcia felt the breath of his cherished dream.

A 2021 Austin High School graduate and Med City FC sophomore striker wants to eventually become a professional football player.

It wasn’t a pro game Garcia played Wednesday at the National Sports Center in Blaine, but he came close, the 19-year-old taking on Minnesota United’s reserve team, Minnesota United FC 2.

The opportunity came after Minnesota United liked what they saw from the 6-foot-2, 170-pound Garcia last school year, when he was named by the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference as a freshman at St. Cloud State University.

Garcia’s Wednesday experience has further bolstered his self-confidence, something that has been happening ever since he was named All-State in his junior and senior seasons in Austin.

Garcia realized on Wednesday that he could play with these guys from the Minnesota United reserve team. It’s different at this level, but not above Garcia’s league.

“It was great to play with these guys, it’s one of the highest levels in the US,” said Garcia. “It’s faster (than Med City FC NPL) but I think I played pretty well. I was able to stick to them. It was a crazy experience to be in the National Sports Center and just be in those dressing rooms for 30 minutes before a game. My heart beat a little. But my dream has always been to play professionally at some level. Being there and competing with them has further boosted my confidence.”

It was a steady rise for Garcia, whose family moved from Minneapolis to Austin when he was in fifth grade.

It was an adjustment: moving from a metropolitan area to a city of 26,000 people.

“When I first heard the news that we were moving, I thought we were going to move to Austin, Texas,” Garcia said. “I didn’t know this was Austin, Minnesota. I didn’t know anything about Austin until I got there. But now it’s good. We have been here for a long time and I have made many friends. It was a good move.”

Garcia’s rise as a football star began when he was a sophomore and had already transferred to the university on the exceptional Austin High School team.

His teams were great all three years he was with the Packers, and so was he. Garcia had eight goals and 11 assists as a sophomore and was then named All-State as a junior and senior with 32 goals and nine assists in 14 games that final season.

That was enough to make Med City, always one of the best teams in the prestigious National Football League, interested in him. Garcia signed with them after graduating from high school and found himself at the center of a huge learning experience.

This is no longer high school football.

“The game was five times faster,” Garcia said of the league, which is full of high-profile college-age footballers and has players from all over the world.

Garcia played little games that season as he adjusted to the pace of play in the NPSL and beyond. This led him to some early frustration. However, he soon came to terms with his situation and decided to learn from it by using the team’s almost daily practice sessions to improve his skills and football knowledge.

“Last summer, I was initially frustrated after graduating from high school, where I was one of the best players,” Garcia said. “But then I realized that I should just continue, that I need to show what I can do in order to get into the squad. I feel better. By the end of the year, I had built up my confidence.”

Med City FC coach Neil Cassidy noted these improvements, including Garcia becoming more accurate with his passing after realizing that what worked in high school needed to be adjusted at that level.

Then Cassidy turned his attention to something else this spring when Garcia showed up to play his second season with Med City. He gained 20 pounds of muscle after hitting the gym with his St. Cloud State team.

This season he has become a stronger player and it is harder for him to defend. The stats Garcia compiled for Med City FC’s 7-0-1 team backs this up. The 19-year-old, who has started every Mayhem game but one, is leading in scoring with five goals already.

He is very different from someone who just graduated from high school a year ago. Bigger, stronger, wiser and more confident.

“Andres is even stronger than he looks,” Cassidy said. “Now he can hold the ball, play against defenders and he is pretty smart. He knows how to find space between defenders. Since he was in college, there’s more physical strength in his game.”

Cassidy is also sure of something else with Garcia, who has impressed him with both his character and football ability. The fact is that the quiet Austin graduate hardly improves.

Cassidy makes it his job this summer to keep getting more out of his star hitter. He knows it’s there.

“There are new mechanisms to come out,” he said. “He has yet to learn a couple of things he doesn’t know yet. He could use a little more composure in front of goal. It hits the right points, but I’d like to see more implementations of those points. But now he has a real calm self-confidence. I’d say it’s the biggest thing I see.”

What happened to Garcia on Wednesday only added to that. He hopes this is a prelude to something much bigger in the coming years.

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