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The Bull & Its Horns: Q&A w/ Toros’ Rookie Ivan Magalhães

Ivan Magalhães overcame some rookie bumps in the road to become a top level player on the back line for RGVFC

Ivan Magalhães developed into a mainstay on an ironclad Toros’ backline.
Onydia Garza

Hailing from Sao Paulo, Brazil, Ivan Magalhães was the Houston Dynamo’s second round pick in the 2016 MLS Superdraft. He spent his college years split between Eastern Florida State College and the University of Maryland. The centerback never signed with Houston, and instead joined RGVFC. I had the pleasure of chatting with Ivan about his rookie year, how he dealt with the transition to professional soccer, and his future.

Dynamo Theory: First professional season in the books, how would you describe it?

Ivan Magalhães: Overall, it was a very good year. I was very excited to be playing my first season as a professional player, and along with the excitement, I was also very anxious and I did not really know what to expect for my rookie year. Fortunately I was able to play a big amount of the games, and we had a very solid team, so I am very glad and proud about the year we had.

DT: Fairly early into the season, you broke into the starting lineup. What proved, even as a rookie, that you were ready?

Ivan: At the beginning of the year, I was having problems with my international documentation. So, Wilmer told me that I probably wouldn't be able to play in the first few games of the season, but he reinforced that I should be ready because the season was going to be very long. So while I was getting my paperwork fixed, I kept training hard and focused because I knew sooner or later I was going to have my opportunity to prove myself not only at practice but also in games.

DT: You had a tough game against Orange County Blues in June. In that match, you were sent off, and fouled twice in the box for two penalties. How were you able to move past that so quickly?

Ivan: That was a very difficult moment for me in the season. I was very emotional and clearly upset after that game. But in soccer, we have good days, and we have some bad days. The support I received from all the players was very crucial for me not to let that mistake affect me. I was also grateful that the coaches also continue to give me confidence so I could move past that moment. And it was after that day that we went 8 straight games without conceding goals so that was very rewarding in a way.

DT: The rookie year is huge in a player’s development. In what area did you improve the most on in 2016?

Ivan: I believe that I improved a lot in the tactical aspect of the game. Our coaches did a great job in organizing us, and they emphasized the importance of defending as a unit. We practiced exhaustively our shape, body positioning and communication, and also we studied our games in the video room and we got to see where our defensive unit could be improved.

DT: Behind that great defensive back line all season was great goalkeeping, whether it was Callum Irving, Tyler Deric, Devin Perales, or Calle Brown. How much did you enjoy playing in front of that level of goalkeeper?

Ivan: I was extremely pleased to have such great goalkeeping supporting us all season long. For a defender, having a keeper that you trust is essential, especially because of our style of play and also our style of defending in set pieces. They were very solid, helped us with unbelievable saves, and were very efficient communicating with the back line.

DT: What was the best advice you received from your Toros’ manager, and new Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera?

Ivan: He gave plenty of good advice. He liked to remind us the importance of balance in life, and in soccer. He used to say that "too much of anything is not good". Soccer related, I guess that "safety first" and "be the owner of your area" are the two most important things he passed to me.

DT: Who had the best dance moves in the RGVFC locker room?

Ivan: *laughs* That's probably me with my samba skills. Just kidding! But jokes aside, Kevin Garcia is a really good salsa dancer and he even taught me a few moves.

DT: How will you spend your first professional offseason?

Ivan: After the season was over, I went to UMD and to EFSC to watch my old teams play, and now I returned to Brazil. I am going to enjoy my family, eat a lot of my mom and grandma's food *laughs*, go to the beach, meet some of my friends that I don't see all year long, and last but not least, I have already started preparing myself physically for next season.

DT: Where will we see you next on the pitch?

Ivan: Unfortunately, I do not know yet where I am going to continue my career as a soccer player next year. The Dynamo are going through a reformulation of roster now, and whichever decisions they make are going to affect us from the Valley. But as we all know, they are the priority, and we have to be patient and wait. But personally I would love to return to the Dynamo/Toros organization because it was a great year of development for me, and I still feel like I have a lot to give to this organization.