By CHARLIE CORR – firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, December 10, 2015
CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla. - The word within the 2016 USL expansion Rio Grande Valley FC Toros these days is “construction” – from stadium construction to team construction.
The most important piece on the team side has been put in place with the hiring of Wilmer Cabrera, who was introduced as the organization’s first head coach on Dec. 1.
“Construction of a soccer team and the soccer coach in our area is extremely important,” RGVFC’s Bert Garcia said during the 2015 USL Winter Summit. “We figured we had the best candidate possible, so hiring Wilmer Cabrera is an extremely exciting opportunity.”
The immediate draw for RGV’s sake is Cabrera’s wealth of experience at so many levels, spanning from the U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team to former Major League Soccer club Chivas USA.
For a USL team that will likely include a wide range of experience and players at different stages of their careers, Garcia said Cabrera made the most sense.
“He’s the total package,” Garcia said. “I believe he can help us establish us not only on the first team side – the USL side – but also in our academies and youth development. He brings many ideas with him and has been part of the development for the U.S. Soccer Federation. He is really entrenched.
“He wants to get to know the community and embrace it, and for us that’s what we’re about. We’re about the community aspect first and foremost.”
A native of Colombia, Cabrera has the background to adapt smoothly in a predominantly Hispanic market, but Garcia said that topic did not come up during Cabrera’s hiring process.
“Obviously the fact that he can speak Spanish will be helpful because we’re about 10 minutes from the border,” Garcia said. “We’ll be able to put some commercials out on the Mexican side. In that sense, it is helpful. But soccer’s a global sport. Soccer speaks for itself.”
Stadium update: RGV is in the process of building a 9,400-seat, state-of-the-art stadium in Edinburg, Texas, and Garcia said that the time table for completion is still on track.
“We’re on schedule as far as construction goes,” Garcia said. “We will probably be opening three weeks after the opening weekend, but it is still on schedule. The weather has been cooperating somewhat. We have selected all the vendors for the stadium. Not only the soccer stadium, but our practice site is under construction as well, so we’re excited about that.”
Hybrid ‘brainpower’ for Toros staff: Garcia is well entrenched with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers’ NBA D-League season, but the club is mapping out the base that will head the Toros when they kick off next year. Garcia, the acting president of the Toros, said the staff will be a mix of crossover employees and new hires.
“We’re going to hybrid some of our staff,” Garcia said. “We’ll have one executive VP for both and one president for both. We are going to hire some additional account executives. Some will be focused strictly on soccer. But the brainpower is going to be a hybrid from the basketball to the soccer side, as well, just because historically we have shown that we’re able to sell a ticket and sponsorship.”