There are only three players still around from the RGVFC playoff team in 2016: Kai Greene, Todd Wharton, and Jorginho James. (His return hasn’t been confirmed by the club yet) During that season, Greene and James got a chance to help the club, but Wharton missed most of that year with a foot injury. Last season, the midfielder from the University of Virginia took on the primary distributor role vacated by Charlie Ward’s signing in Houston. Wharton will be leaned on heavily in the 2018 season, for his skill and leadership.
“I tend to lead by example,” Wharton explains. “I think before you can be very vocal like some other types of leaders, it’s most important to show everyone else how hard you work and show you can consistently do the right thing and play well. I’m always trying to improve my communication on the field as well.” As he returns for his third season in the Valley, Wharton will also be playing for his third different manager. Gerson Echeverry replaced Junior Gonzalez this off-season, who replaced Wilmer Cabrera after he became the Houston Dynamo manager after the 2016 season. “Gerson has been great so far. He’s instilled a great mentality for the team and pushes us to get better everyday,” says the RGVFC midfielder.
Another big change from last season is the departure of Eric Bird, Wharton’s college and professional teammate, to Houston. On the loss of his friend to the first team, Wharton says, “Eric is a big loss for us, although we will definitely NOT miss his long hair. He always worked hard and made plays for us that will require multiple players to fill his shoes in those roles. A steady presence that we could look for to change the game for us.”
Despite the turnover from year to year, Wharton’s excited to return to Rio Grande Valley and H-E-B Park. He says, “Playing at HEB Park is amazing. It’s easily the best stadium in the league with great fans that provide a fun atmosphere to play in every single game. We are hoping to give them more goals and more wins this year because they really deserve it.”
After getting a chance to train and play well with the Dynamo this preseason, Todd’s ready to take a big step in his third professional season. “I think as a player you can always improve in all aspects of the game, but specifically I want to look for more penetrating and forward minded passes,” he shares. “Receiving the ball with the ability to play forward whenever I can as well as looking to increase my range of passing.”
RGVFC will be aiming for a bounce back season in 2018 and Todd Wharton is going to be a big part of that equation.