The Rio Grande Valley FC Toros announced today the club has signed forward Dzenan Catic, defender Kevin Garcia, goalkeeper Devin Perales and midfielders George Malki and Charlie Ward. Garcia and Ward will be added to the Toros roster pending receipt of their P-1 Visa and international transfer certificate. Per club and league policy, terms of the transactions were not disclosed.
“They have experience playing professionally within MLS, USL or internationally,” RGV FC head coach Wilmer Cabrera said. ”That is important when you have to build a team. They have enough talent and are looking to be successful with the team and to create an opportunity to move to the Houston Dynamo first team.”
Dynamo assistant general manager Nick Kowba said, “These signings are all hungry to succeed and have a lot to prove. In the cases of Catic, Malki, Perales, and Ward they all spent time training with the first team and were evaluated by the coaching staff which was invaluable. This is a clear sign of the integration and close connection between the Houston Dynamo and RGV FC. “
Perales, an Austin native, played for Lonestar (SC) in his youth career. The 22-year-old played one season at Southern Methodist University and two seasons at Coastal Carolina University. In the summer of 2013, Perales led the Austin Aztex to a PDL national title and was a finalist for the league’s goalkeeper of the year award. Two years later, he left school early to sign his first professional contract with the Aztex for their first season in USL. Perales made 16 appearances (15 starts) and recorded five shutouts for the Aztex in 2015.
Born in Bosnia, Catic moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan at age 8. After high school, he signed with German club FC Kaiserslautern and remained with FCK from 2011-12. After his spell in Europe, Catic played for Davenport University, accumulating various accolades including the 2014 NAIA National Player of the Year. Catic, 23, was selected in the second round of the 2015 MLS SuperDraft by the Philadelphia Union. The striker spent parts of last season on loan with the Harrisburg City Islanders (USL) and Carolina RailHawks (NASL).
Garcia, 25, was selected in the third round of the 2012 MLS Supplemental Draft by the New England Revolution. In 2013, he signed with Swedish club IFK Luleå and made 30 appearances in two seasons. Garcia was a four-year starter at Villanova University and was coached by Cabrera during his youth career at BW Gottschee.
Malki, 23, joined the Dynamo for the 2015 preseason before signing with Arizona United SC (USL), for whom he made 24 appearances (11 starts) in his first professional season. The Scottsdale, Arizona native was selected in the second round of the 2014 MLS SuperDraft by the Montreal Impact. The defender was a two-time All-Big West Conference second team honoree at California Polytechnic State University.
Ward, a Redditch, England native, was a member of the Stoke City U-21 team for the last three seasons. The 20-year-old trained with the Dynamo first team last October and previously played for Aston Villa’s youth teams.
The players will report to training camp later this month. For Cabrera, his expectations go beyond the production on the field as he wants this group of players to establish a culture for the team ahead of its inaugural season.
“They should lead the team on and off the field, creating a professional and successful environment where the team will be placed first,” Cabrera said. “It starts with them.”
The five newcomers join Dynamo Academy products Christian Lucatero and Juan “Charly” Flores as members of the inaugural RGV FC roster in 2016. The Dynamo will continue to construct the inaugural RGV FC roster ahead of the club’s first preseason in March 2016.
The Dynamo and RGV FC formed a hybrid affiliation in July. As part of the partnership, the Dynamo control all technical aspects of the club, including the selection and formation of the coaching staff as well as the construction of the roster. RGV FC, which operates the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the NBA D-League affiliate of the Houston Rockets, will manage business operations for the club, including the current construction of a 9,400-seat state-of-the-art soccer stadium in Edinburg, Texas, 330 miles southwest of Houston, across the Mexican border from Reynosa.