The official roster is set for the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros. The Houston Dynamo USL affiliate brings back a lot of the club that finished last year 2nd in the Western Conference. Let’s break down the roster by position group:
Kyle Murphy, Ruben Luna, Dzenan Catic, Francisco Pungo
The club’s three main strikers are all returning from last year. Ruben Luna joined the club midseason last year, and scored eight goals in thirteen matches. He is tough to knock off the ball, and is crafty in the box. Dzenan Catic overcame a concussion, and made a huge impact as a substitute late in matches. At 6’3’’, he’s a big target, and he scored six goals in 2016. Kyle Murphy rounds out the group, and he’s another tall, athletic striker. In addition to that, he saw some time as a winger, starting alongside Catic, creating a dangerous duo.
The new face in the crowd is teenager Francisco Pungo, who is on loan from Colombian club, Deportivo Escuela de Futbol Carlos Sarmiento Lora.
Charlie Ward, Eric Bird, Jorginho James, Emilio Garcia, Eric Verso, TJ Casner, Christian Lucatero, Camilo Monroy, Todd Wharton
Any discussion of the Toros’ midfield starts with Charlie Ward. The England native played literally every second of the inaugural season, and played hard. He was the primary facilitator of the possession heavy attack. Ward was frequently paired with the defensive wall of Jorginho James. The Jamaican was never afraid to dive in for a tackle, or knock an opponent off the ball. His long ball delivery improved as the season went on as well.
Eric Bird saw equal success as a substitute or a starter, and always came up big with a goal at the most crucial times. Emilio Garcia is a high energy player, that has quality striking the ball, and also taking on defenders. TJ Casner was someone that fans thought the Dynamo may bring up to the first team. He has good pace on the wing, and is a great passer, and versatile offensive threat. Eric Verso’s season was short due to a car accident. But he is back, and excited to showcase the skills he did playing the assist man to Jordan Morris at Stanford. Todd Wharton also had an injury shortened season.
Another player looking for more match time in 2017 will be Christian Lucatero. A prodigy of the Dynamo Academy, Lucatero didn’t see consistent action last year in the Valley. When he did play, he was electrifying, but injuries and inexperience didn’t give him a full chance. The new face in the midfield is Camilo Monroy. The 18 year old is a loanee from Deportivo PFC Sport in Colombia. He had some of the most exciting action against Rayados earlier this week.
Ivan Magalhaes, Kai Greene, Victor Garza, Leo Ayala, Robby Sagel
The RGVFC defense was record setting last year, going on a shutout streak in the middle of the season like nothing the USL had ever seen. That backline brings back Ivan Magalhaes, the second year man from Maryland, and Kai Greene, the super athletic fullback from Seton Hall. Former Dynamo academy product Leo Ayala saw limited action last year.
Victor Garza is a new face, but not to local fans in South Texas. He was born in McAllen, before playing for the US U-17’s and U-20’s. He is on loan from Tigres of Liga MX. Robby Sagel also joins the Toros backline. He was a fourth round selection in this year’s Superdraft by Houston, after playing at Temple and Penn State in college.
Borja Angoitia, Marco Carducci
Spanish born Borja Angoitia has established himself this preseason, as the club’s go to keeper. He has played professionally in Spain for SD Amorebieta.
He will be competing with Marco Carducci. The 20 year old Canadian spent the first part of his professional career with the Vancouver Whitecaps, and Whitecaps FC 2. He also represents the Canadian national team at the U-23 level.