With five games played, a delay in stadium completion, and the first matchup with their rivals this weekend, I had the opportunity to take stock of the overall progress for the Toros so far with Team President Bert Garcia. Just a quick note, you won't find a more professional man in sports than Mr. Garcia. Its a pleasure to catch up any time he's available.
Q: How would you describe the experience of the hybrid partnership with the Houston Dynamo at this point?
Garcia: The experience has been fantastic. As we mentioned at the beginning of the season, our strength would not be in forming a team, especially a soccer team. Therefore, what the Houston Dynamo have done is give our soccer team credibility. They have not only formed a team, but have formed a team that is competitive, and will win a lot of games for RGVFC.
Q: Other teams, such as Seattle Sounders FC 2, have been considering hybrid partnerships. Of course assuming that the two parties are a good match, Would you fully recommend it? Any major drawbacks you've experienced?
Garcia: We have done the hybrid model starting with Rio Grande Valley Vipers, for the last 7 years. We have not seen any setbacks, we have seen nothing but positives. I believe for teams like Seattle, it will allow teams to focus only on soccer operations, while their partner will worry about the business operations. The business model makes sense for both parties and will allows both sides to flourish.
Q: The stadium was originally scheduled to be completed by the home opener, but is now pushed back due to a couple issues. Why wasn't it ready for the LA Galaxy II match as planned?
Garcia: Unfortunately with weather setbacks and some upgrades, our soccer stadium was not ready for the home opener. We want to make sure that we get it right the first time with our stadium. It is important the we see this project not just for a season, but for 30 years down the road.
Q: Are naming rights settled on yet? If so, what will the stadium officially be called?
Garcia: We are in the contract stages of the naming rights and we believe the community will be impressed with the entity that we are partnering up with.
Q: The team has played well early in the USL campaign, including Dynamo first teamers like Bradley Bourgeois, Mauro Manotas, Sebastien Ibeagha, etc. How excited are you about the players the Dynamo front office have loaned to the club?
Garcia: Anytime you are able to receive players from the parent team, it enhances the product on the field. I am ecstatic every time we receive an email from Matt Jordan and Nick Kowba letting us know that a player will be playing with the Toros.
Q: A heartbreaking end to the season for the Houston Rockets affiliate, RGV Vipers in the playoffs. Do you think the fans in the Valley will be excited now, to turn their attention to the Toros?
Garcia: It was definitely heartbreaking for our Vipers season to end the way it did. We made the playoffs once again, but we, as a front office, and I believe our fans expect more. We like those expectations because in turn the fans will know what to expect out of the Toros as well.
Q: How has the Valley supported RGVFC so far, with watch parties, the home opener, ticket sales, etc.?
Garcia: I believe the support has been tremendous. It is overwhelming to see the excitement the support group and season ticket holders have been displaying.
Q: Has the club been able to get involved with any community initiatives?
Garcia: We have been fortunate to be part of Habitat for Humanity and a couple of school appearances. We believe it is pivotal to be engaged in the community. To be able to give back any opportunity that we are given.
Q: What is next on the agenda after the stadium completion?
Garcia: I am not sure we are looking further than trying to get our State of the Art soccer stadium open. A lot of work is going into the project and it takes all hands on deck to make sure it is done properly. We want the community to proud of the stadium.
Q: Any trash talk for your rival and this week's opponent, San Antonio FC? And speaking of the SA/Houston rivalry,Spurs legend Tim Duncan or Houston Hall of Famer, Hakeen Olajuwon?
Garcia: I would love to get into a friendly banter between SAFC and RGVFC. The only problem is that they are really great at what they do, they are friends and we share a lot of ideas. Don't get me wrong, we will beat them when we play them. Our basketball record with RGV Vipers vs Austin Spurs has us in the lead and we expect the same with soccer! *laughs*
Hakeem or Tim? Wow! Not a fair question whatsoever. I am going to go with Hakeem as my starting center and Tim Duncan as my staring power forward. Twin Towers part 2! *laughs*