When I wrote last week about the five new signings for the RGVFC Toros, the Houston Dynamo's new USL hybrid affiliate, the player that was most discussed and provided the most intrigue was Charlie Ward, the midfielder from England, specifically from Stoke City's U-21 squad. I was able to catch up with Ward to shine a little more light on the Toros' cheeky new midfielder.
Q: What made you bring your game to the United States?
Ward: What made me come to the USA was that the football over here is growing so much. I was watching a lot of games on Sky Sports, and they were so entertaining, very end to end stuff but also a very good standard of football and some really good players. Obviously the weather is nice but I am here to push on and get into the Houston Dynamo's first team, but first I want to prepare as professionally as I can and do my utmost to win some trophies with RGVFC and be a competitive team and set my own goals also.
Q: After deciding to come to the US, why Houston/RGVFC?
Ward: I chose Houston as it has a first class manager in Owen Coyle, who when I was over there along with all his staff, were all brilliant and looked after me probably the best I have been looked after in my professional career. The professionalism of the team as a group made me feel really welcome,and I soon as I was out there I knew it was somewhere I hope and really strive to push on and kick start my career. At this stage of my career, I need game time and especially men's football, so the first step is to get my head down and do really well with RGVFC,and make sure I solidify a first team spot week in week out and hopefully set a standard along with my team mates at the highest level and hopefully win some trophies. I just can not wait to hit the ground running and really push on and meet all the staff players and fans also as I have heard it is a great place to live with some really good people, so I'm really looking forward to it.
Q: What has your interaction with Wilmer Cabrera been like?
Ward: I haven't been in contact with the coach yet, but I had a mate who was coached by him at US 17 level and he only spoke in flying colors about him, saying that he is a really professional person and likes footballers and to most of all enjoy the game. Because when you enjoy playing and have a great relationship with the coach, it only brings the best out in you, and I'm sure Wilmer will do that. And I'm really looking forward to the first day of preseason and meeting him and having a great relationship over the coming season.
Q: What about playing for Stoke's U-21 side and the Aston Villa academy prepared you for the next step this year?
Ward: Stoke was good and I enjoyed some good times there, but I don't want to look back, only forward and how RGVFC can kick start my career and really mature my game and turn into a top player that I want to become and be the best. If you don't want to be the best I don't think there's any point, if you aim to be the very best then I'm only cheating myself as I know I'm capable and I hope to show that to firstly all the staff, and the watching fans.
Q: How would you best describe your playing style?
Ward: My playing style has always been a deep lying creative midfielder, that creates from deep. But I really think I'm coming out to Houston with a clear mindset and being the best at everything I possibly can, whether that's doing extra work with Wilmer or other members of staff, or being in the gym as much as I can to really mature and turn into a man, as I need to really push on now.
Q: Who was your favorite player growing up?
Ward: My favorite footballer has to be Paul Scholes. I try to mold my game on him, he was a all round player, very good passer of the ball,his vision, his goal scoring, his breaking up play, he was just an all round player and a real joy to watch. But most recently I have really took a liking to match Marco Verratti for Paris Saint Germain, for me he is the best central midfielder in the world at this moment. He is 5ft nothing,but with the ability he has it doesn't matter, he makes me enjoy football watching him and I strive to be of his quality one day.
Q: What is the biggest difference between the UK and the US?
Ward: Biggest difference between the UK and US isn't a lot really, I think from all the times I have been to the states, the people have been really nice and always take an interest and really friendly with English. So I'm hoping nothing changes when I come to Houston and meet all the great people I have heard so much of, only major difference is weather, but if you ask any English person, now would you prefer our winters or the beautiful weather in Houston? I'm sure I know what they'd choose, so I am looking forward to that also.
Q: What is your favorite restaurant in the States so far?
Ward: It has to be Golden Corral, there is everything there you could want. Whether or not it is seen as a nice place, I don't know, but for a family of my size we go in there and eat as much as we can till we can not walk anymore, well not me obviously as I take my diet strict. *smiles* Well maybe I let myself off for a day or so if I have been training hard as I always do.
Q: Lastly, what are your goals for the 2016 season with RGVFC?
Ward: My goals for the upcoming season have to be: First, to be starting for RGVFC and warrant playing as I have to prove to Wilmer and the staff I want to be the best and lead by example and show the fans how much my career means to me and how much I want to push on. Then after that it has to be to be to win trophies and be a competitive team, and from then things should look after themselves. If I'm doing well I hope to push into Owen Coyle's eye and get into Houston's team, but I have to prove I am good enough and doing well. Because I am coming to RGVFC to kick start my career and really mature and become the player I want to be and play at the highest level, and I hope the fans and people of Houston will see that and I hope it to be a great relationship between us and I just can't wait to start and for the first game of the season to here and putting on that kit and hearing all of our passionate fans supporting the team.