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Charlie Ward was the right player in the wrong system

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The English midfielder was a victim of international roster spot rules and a system that didn’t suit his skills.

Charlie Ward starred for the possession heavy Toros in 2016 and the beginning of 2017.
Christian Inoferio

When discussing the release of Charlie Ward, it’s important to mention, while there are a couple reasons for his departure, skill is not one of them. Partially due to a relationship with then-Dynamo manager Owen Coyle, Ward arrived at RGVFC in 2016 after playing for Stoke City and Aston Villa at the reserve level. To say he had a great first season in the US would be an understatement. The Englishman would play every second of every match for the #2 seed in the Western Conference. He was the Toros’ engine that season and was arguably the best passer in the entire league. His vision and skill fit perfectly in the possession heavy RGVFC system.

The following offseason saw Charlie get a chance to earn a spot with the first team. Unfortunately, an injury kept him from signing with Houston. He would rejoin the Toros and serve as captain to start the season. After playing with the Dynamo during their US Open Cup matches, Ward was officially signed in June.

But, Wilmer Cabrera’s counter-attack based play style wasn’t ideal for the holding midfielder. After being a mainstay and star for the possession based Toros, Ward found himself stuck on the bench for the Dynamo.

Now, he’s been released by Houston in order to free up an international spot for new signing Swedish defender Adam Lundqvist. It’s an unfortunate situation for Ward, who loses his roster spot largely due to his international status. The negative of being released could turn out to be positive for the 23-year-old. He will now have the opportunity to find a new club with a play style that better suits his passing-centric skillset.

In my two years of covering him, I believe Charlie is absolutely an MLS level talent and I hope he finds the best next stop.