The Rio Grande Valley FC Toros announced today the club has signed six new players: Defenders Ivan Magalhães and Kai Greene and midfielders T.J. Casner, Eric Bird, Todd Wharton and Jorginho James. Magalhães (Brazilian) and James (Jamaican) will be added to the Toros roster pending receipt of their P-1 Visa and international transfer certificate. The Toros are the USL hybrid affiliate of the Dynamo and open their inaugural season in the United Soccer League on March 26.
“We are very excited to add these talented players to our roster,” RGV FC head coach Wilmer Cabrera said. “Ivan and T.J. were brought to the Houston Dynamo from the 2016 SuperDraft and they were observed during preseason by Owen (Coyle) and his staff. They have very good potential, and they are close to what the Houston Dynamo are looking for from young players coming out of college. The RGV FC Toros will help them to improve a few details and keep them in a highly competitive environment.”
“We are very pleased to add these quality players who possess a variety of skill sets and unlimited potential,” Dynamo assistant general manager Nick Kowba said. “They join us from diverse backgrounds and have taken different pathways here but they all have a similar goal to develop and advance their careers by taking advantage of the opportunity presented to them. With these recent signings the team is taking shape and we are looking forward to getting the regular season underway.”
Magalhães (Pronounced: EE-von Mah-gah-LEHS) was selected by the Dynamo in the second round (No. 26 overall) of the 2016 MLS SuperDraft and competed with the Dynamo this preseason. Born in São Paulo, Brazil, Magalhães moved to the United States after high school, earning first team NSCAA Junior College All-America honors in 2013 and second team All-America recognition in 2014 at Eastern Florida State College. The 22-year-old transferred to the University of Maryland and started 22 games in 2015, helping the Terrapins record 10 shutouts and win the Big 10 conference tournament while adding a goal and assist in his lone season. Magalhães can play center back and left back and came up with São Paulo FC, for whom he played from age 10-13. He moved to Gremio Barueri from age 13-16 and completed his youth career with S.C. Corinthians before moving to Florida at age 19.
Casner, 21, was selected by the Dynamo in the third round (No. 47 overall) of the SuperDraft in January. The winger capped a four-year career at Clemson with his best season in 2015, leading the Tigers to the NCAA College Cup championship game with a team-leading 10 goals and four assists. The Irvine, California native was named third team NSCAA All-America, first team NSCAA All-South region and first team All-Atlantic Coast Conference as Clemson earned the No. 2 overall seed in the NCAA tournament. Casner, who can play in multiple attacking positions, scored in five consecutive games during the regular season, including four game-winning goals during the streak. He played for Pateadores soccer club in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy from 2009-12 after time with the LA Galaxy Academy.
“Eric, Todd, Jorginho and Kai are players with excellent trajectory at the youth level and college level,” said Cabrera. “Jorginho has played for the Jamaica national team and scored in his debut. They are very motivated to continue their soccer growth with the Toros this season and are eager to show the potential and qualities they have at the professional level.”
Bird, 22, was drafted by the Philadelphia Union in the second round of the 2015 MLS SuperDraft (No. 41 overall). The midfielder was captain for his final two seasons as the University of Virginia won the 2014 NCAA national championship, earning All-Atlantic Coast Conference and second-team NSCAA All-America honors. The Virginia Beach native was a third-team NSCAA All-America selection in 2013 as Virginia reached the College Cup. Bird made three appearances on loan with the Harrisburg City Islanders (USL) last season and played for Beach FC before Virginia.
Wharton was a teammate of Bird for three of his four seasons at the University of Virginia, winning the 2014 national championship and reaching the College Cup a year earlier. The 22-year-old was a four-year starter and captain as a senior in 2015, making 85 career appearances for the Cavaliers. The Deep Run, Virginia native was a second-team All-ACC pick and third-team NSCAA All-South region selection last year. Before UVA, Wharton played for Richmond Strikers in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy.
James, 21, is a Jamaica international (3 caps), and scored in his Reggae Boyz debut against Cuba in 2012 at age 17 and played for Jamaica’s Under-20 team. The defensive midfielder was invited to the 2016 MLS Combine after impressing at the MLS-sponsored Caribbean Combine. James spent the last two seasons with Harbour View FC in Jamaica, the former club of several Jamaica internationals, including former Dynamo Jermaine Taylor, Luton Shelton, Damani Ralph and Lovel Palmer.
Green, a 22-year-old defender, played four seasons at Seton Hall University, scoring five goals as senior in 2014. The South Orange, New Jersey native played midfield at Seton Hall but is expected to play center back and right back with RGV FC. Green trained with German clubs Borussia Neunkirchen and SV Elversberg in in 2015.
The RGV FC roster now stands at 15 players for the 2016 season: Ivan Magalhães, T.J. Casner, Eric Bird, Todd Wharton, Jorginho James, Kai Greene, Dzenan Catic, Kevin Garcia, Devin Perales, George Malki, Charlie Ward, Taylor Hunter and Dynamo Academy products Christian Lucatero, Juan “Charly” Flores and Memo Rodriguez. Several Dynamo First Team players will join RGV FC at various times throughout the season.
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.