RGVFC signed ten players to the 2018 roster this week. While a couple of the additions have experience with their nation’s youth international teams, one is currently a member of a senior squad. That player would be goalkeeper Matt Sanchez.
The 23-year-old has been playing for the Puerto Rican national team since 2015. He also had a very successful college career at Loyola University of Maryland and Old Dominion. After winning 2016 Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Year and trialing with D.C. United, Sanchez was forced to sit out last season due to injury. Now, he gets a chance to make his mark as a professional. “I’m really excited! Having to spend the last year on the sidelines was tough and I’m excited to be involved in such a well run and well supported organization,” he says.
While he’s ready to help lead the Toros to wins this season, the hybrid affiliation with the Houston Dynamo was also a positive force behind his signing. He explains, “Houston’s a great club with a strong MLS history and I have a lot of respect for their staff, especially goalkeeper coach Paul Rodgers. It’s a place I could really see myself developing in over the long term and that was a big part of my decision to play here.”
His national team experience will certainly make him a top goalkeeper at the USL level and an intriguing prospect for the Dynamo. “Goalkeeping is such an experience based position. Playing for Puerto Rico has given my the opportunity to play in some high level games and see higher speeds than I would by playing college.”
Like Houston, Puerto Rico was devastated by a hurricane in 2017, the island suffering massive damage and loss of electricity. (Find out how you can help HERE) As we saw with the Houston Strong movement, Puerto Rico also overcame adversity and showcased true resilience. “Puerto Ricans have such a deep pride for their country. Its really something special I haven’t seen from many other cultures,” Sanchez recalls. “When Maria hit, it obviously took a physical toll on the island, but what was most amazing was to watch that same pride and spirit carry those people through these tough times for Puerto Rico.”
Sanchez will look to do Puerto Rico proud in 2018. For all the RGVFC supporters, he is predicting a strong showing for his squad this season. “Expect to see a great group of men who are dedicated to the city and want to do everything they can to bring wins back to the Valley,” he says.
RGVFC will host the Dynamo for a friendly at H-E-B Park in the beginning of February. Their USL regular season opener is also in South Texas, with Saint Louis FC traveling to South Texas on March 16th.