By NICHOLAS MURRAY – email@example.com
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
MIAMI – It’s not an uncommon thing to hear from an 8-year-old, when their dreams are as big as the stadium they’re sitting in, watching their local club get ready for action.
For Juan “Charly” Flores, though, the day when his words come true may not be that far away.
“I told my dad, one day I’m going to reach it. One day I’m going to play for the Houston Dynamo here in Houston,” Flores said. “They were playing at Robertson Stadium, and I was like, I’m going to play here on this field. You’re going to remember this day.”
The first signing in Rio Grande Valley FC history, Flores’ ascent since joining the Dynamo’s Academy two years ago has been at an accelerated pace. From training with the club’s first team this past summer, to his call-up to the U.S. U20 Men’s National Team training camp this week, Flores is looked at as one of the brightest prospects in the country.
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It was that which made him the logical choice for the Dynamo when they were looking to announce which player would be the Toros’ first signing.
“Anytime you start a new franchise, your first signing is very important,” said Dynamo Technical Director Matt Jordan. “We felt with Charly, what we’ve seen in his progression over the last 12 months, we thought he was a perfect signing.”
Flores was left “speechless” when the club approached him about the opportunity, but is looking forward to moving into the professional ranks. Having gained experience training alongside the likes of Giles Barnes, the player he looks up to most in the current Dynamo squad, Flores is keen to show what he can do at the USL level.
“One of my goals is to develop and learn as much as I can, and hopefully by the end of this season score goals for RGV and start for RGV, and hopefully move into the [Dynamo],” Flores said.
The path Flores is taking aim at has already been trodden, with the New York Red Bulls II’s Tyler Adams being in many ways a case study for Flores and the Toros. The U.S. U17 international was named NYRB II’s first signing, and after a strong rookie season was signed this offseason to an MLS Homegrown contract.
Jordan sees that level of potential in Flores. As a former MLS and USL player, Jordan was at the forefront of setting up FC Montreal as it joined the league in 2015, and has also played a major role in the implementation of the partnership between the two leagues. Having experienced the USL on the field, Jordan believes the league can offer a strong arena for players looking to build their professional careers.
“What I think is so beautiful about this partnership and this really important relationship is it’s the key factor in facilitating the gap in development to the first team from our academies, and at the same time putting these players in real environments where they have to perform under pressure,” Jordan said. “I think I bring a unique perspective on all of this, because at the end of my career I was a USL player for the Montreal Impact. I played for years in MLS, and I played in Europe, and I realize how difficult of a league it is, and that’s what I want. I’m really eager for our players to get in that environment.”
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Flores shares that enthusiasm, and is looking forward to the chance to play for Wilmer Cabrera, whose track record within the U.S. National Team program made him a strong fit to become the Toros’ first head coach.
“I’ve heard so much about his player development, great players, young players,” Flores said. “I’m just super-excited to have him as my head coach.”
As the preseason draws near, Flores is ready to make his youthful prediction a reality.“I go back to my dad now and tell him, I’m almost there,” Flores said. “I’ve just got to keep working hard, and I’ll get there.”