When you think of a team’s poster boy, so often it’s a striker: Eric Cantona at Manchester United, Dennis Bergkamp at Arsenal, or Mo Salah at Liverpool. And yet when you think of the driving forces in those teams it’s Roy Keane, Patrick Vieira and Virgil van Dijk. Rugged. Driven. Leaders. Minneapolis City has their own transformative rugged, driven, leader in Jonah Garcia.
He joined the club in 2019, scored the winner on his debut, and already has quite the hardware collection: an NPSL North Conference title in his first season, team MVP his first season, Golden Crow winner for his performance in the 2020 intraclub fall tournament, and he even made the final of the Lower League eCup FIFA tournament.
“I fell in love with Minneapolis City my first game with the club. My teammates, the fans, and the style we play are excellent.”– JONAH GARCIA
Garcia’s soccer journey was fairly standard, for a top player at least: club soccer as a kid growing up in Eagan, high school soccer, and then he went to University of Wisconsin, Superior.
“I came in my freshman year as a midfielder, but only played 15-20 minutes a game. That lack of playing time really motivated me: I spent a lot of time in the weight room to get fitter, I set up small sided games (5-a-side futsal), and did technical work on my own. By my sophomore year I was starting.”
That work ethic defines him as a player, and continues today. Garcia is out there just about every day playing futsal and small sided games, with a bunch of City guys, fitting it in among his day jobs (substitute teacher, youth soccer coach, and assistant coach at Augsburg).
“I love small sided footy because you get more touches on the ball and have more opportunity to create chances. You can’t hide. In college I played two hours of futsal just about every night. Show up, pick teams, play king’s court style where if you lose you have to sit out and wait.”
You would be hard pressed to find another defender in the conference with Garcia’s combination of typical defender’s characteristics like power, positioning, and aerial ability and typical street baller’s characteristics like technique, passing range, and calmness in tight situations. Wrap that up with some competitiveness, the ineffable qualities of leadership, and the willingness to have fun–he played a video game while getting live commentary from Jon and Nate–and Garcia has it all.
“What separates City from other clubs at this level” said co-founder and eCup commentator Jon Bisswurm “is that we’re out here having the most fun. As we say, if it’s worth doing it’s worth over-doing. Buying into that is as important as buying into the team ethos. Jonah sure bought in.”
“I really enjoyed playing [FIFA] in front of the larger audience during the eCup. My weekends normally consist of playing against verified/sponsored FIFA professionals, so the eCup was much more casual.”
Garcia went all the way to the eCup Xbox final before losing, narrowly, over two legs.
One of the running jokes during the eCup was Garcia’s pre-game ‘champion’s diet’ of Chipotle, with extra guacamole. Jon and Nate may need to find a new bit, though.
“I ate so much Chipotle during the first lockdown that I no longer eat it” Garcia says with a laugh. “My new favorite place is Piada Italian Street Food. A Hot Chicken BLT Piada wrap beats a Chipotle burrito any day of the week.”
For a player who is playing his way to legend status, Garcia joined the Crows only after St. Paul side VSLT FC folded.
“I had an excellent time with VSLT, but when they left the NPSL my goal was to play for Minneapolis City.”
Matt Elder, who captained the UW Superior team before Garcia, was the conduit but Garcia still had to earn it–and he did, fighting his way through the Open Tryout.
“Over the past six years I’ve seen Jonah become the player and leader he is. It’s been great to link up again at City and find success together on the field” said Elder.
What was the highlight of the season for Garcia? “There is no better way to start than to score the game winner at Edor Nelson in front of the fans” said Garcia “though I think my highlight has to be playing against Detroit City FC in front of 4,500 fans and, even with just 14 players, giving them a proper match.”
What is next? “I want to win more trophies. City to the Moon!”