Year Founded: 2016
MLS Affiliate: Houston Dynamo
2015 Record: N/A
Key Additions: Devin Perales, Memo Rodriguez, Todd Wharton, Christian Lucatero
Key Departures: N/A
Projected Starting Eleven:
The hybrid affiliate of the Houston Dynamo, RGVFC will be kicking off for the first time ever this USL season. The roster has slowly been assembled since the announcement was made, starting with Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera. The former manager of the USMNT U-17 side and Chivas USA, Cabrera provides experience grooming the younger age group, as well as MLS experience. He was followed by Homegrown product Juan "Charly" Flores. He's joined by fellow Dynamo Academy alums Memo Rodriguez and Christian Lucatero.
Joining Cabrera on the staff is the former coach of the USL's Arizona United, Michael Dellorusso. George Malki joins the Toros from Arizona United as well, a former draft pick of the Montreal Impact. Other USL veterans joining the side include former Philadelphia Union draft picks Dzenan Catic, who is one of only two true forwards on the roster and midfielder Eric Bird. Jamaican international Jorginho "Moon Man" James is with the club on a one year loan, joined by English international Charlie Ward and Honduran international José Escalante, all midfielders. Kevin Garcia is a former selection of the New England Revolution. He joins the club after two seasons in Sweden. Todd Wharton was considered one of this year's biggest undrafted snubs, he'll be a defensive mid for the Toros in 2016. Kai Greene is coming off a great college career at Seton Hall and Devin Perales is the club's lone goalkeeper. The roster is rounded out with 2015 and 2016 Dynamo draft picks Taylor Hunter, Ivan Magalhães and TJ Casner. As with other affiliated teams, there will be a variety of Dynamo first team players joining for a match, a month or longer, so that will also impact the shape of the team moving forward.
Why Should You Watch RGVFC in 2016?
New things are exciting, aren't they? This is not only a new club, but an incredibly diverse club. With players from Jamaica, Brazil,England, Honduras,and all over the United States, there will be different flavors all mixing together on the field for RGV. It will also be exciting to see Academy stars like Flores and Lucatero make their pro debuts and see how they adjust to the higher competion. If you're in the Rio Grande Valley, I'd encourage you to go to a game live, as the club's state of the art 10,000 seat stadium is scheduled to be ready in time for their home opener in April.
Players To Watch:
The Dynamo Academy Trio (Lucatero, Memo and Flores): All three players are very exciting prospects. Lucatero has been touted as having the highest potential of any Dynamo Academy player ever, Memo will have a true full USL season as his playing time was limited on loan with the Charleston Battery last season, and Flores will try to continue his torrid scoring form as he transitions to his first pro season.
Devin Perales: One constant in the club's first preseason of friendlies has been clean sheets. Behind a sturdy defense, a lot of the credit for that can go to the sophomore season keeper. After a respectable rookie year in the USL with the Austin Aztex getting just over half the starts in goal, Perales will look to take the next step as RGVFC's primary goalkeeper.
Ivan Magalhães: The Brazilian born, second round pick of the Dynamo in 2016, Magalhães will look to prove to Houston that he deserves a spot with the first team in the near future. A tall athletic defender, Ivan will look to solidify the backline this year for the Toros and possibly contribute on set pieces.
The 2016 season will be a success if.....
Like most MLS created USL sides, the club's success will be determined by their ability to balance trying to get good results and properly developing the club's prospects. It's a difficult dance. You want good play on the field so fans will be supportive and the players will develop confidence, but also you cannot sacrifice developing young players like Lucatero or Flores, just to go for wins. Wilmer Cabrera has a great background for this position, with experience developing young players for the USMNT U-17's, but also in going for results as the head coach of the defunct MLS side Chivas USA.