By NICHOLAS MURRAY – firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Coming off a year in which he was named both the PDL’s Most Valuable Player, and the NSCAA NAIA Player of the Year, Dzenan Catic’s first professional season in 2015 did not go entirely to plan.
So when the Houston Dynamo contacted him to become part of Rio Grande Valley FC this offseason, the former Philadelphia Union MLS SuperDraft selection was excited to become a member of the Toros.
“I had a few other offers, but it seemed very intriguing, and something the Dynamo really wanted to push forward,” Catic said this week. “I think it’s a project they’re really putting a lot into, so it was intriguing for me and something I wanted to be a part of.”
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After being selected by the Union, Catic played for both the Harrisburg City Islanders and Carolina RailHawks in 2015. Unable to find a rhythm as he made five starts between the two clubs, Catic said he learned a lot about himself as his playing opportunities remained limited.
“Individually, you just have to stay mentally tough going through things like that,” Catic said. “I just think that having been through that was a good thing for me. I know if I can get through things like that, I can pretty much get through anything, so it was good to get through, not something that was fun, obviously, but in the end it’s all a business, so you’ve got to take it.”
Now part of the Toros, Catic is hopeful the stability provided by his new surroundings can help him regain his prodigious form of 2014. Catic recorded 16 goals and three assists for the Bucks in the PDL regular season on the way to winning the league championship, and then notched 24 goals for Davenport University that fall, scoring in 19 of the team’s 24 contests and at one point scoring a goal in nine consecutive games.
With the vast playing and coaching experience of Wilmer Cabrera leading the way for RGV FC, Catic believes he’s in the ideal environment to push himself forward as a player.
“It’s been fantastic,” Catic said. “[Cabrera] knows how to develop players, and everyone listens to him because they know his pedigree. He’s played in World Cups for Colombia, he’s done it all, so it’s very easy to listen and learn from someone like that. There’s a lot to learn for all of us, so we have to listen to Wilmer and take it from there.”
After spending part of preseason with the Dynamo, where he got to catch up with former Bucks teammate Zach Steinberger, Catic has been working alongside his new teammates as they prepare for their opening contest against Tulsa Roughnecks FC on March 26. He found the net as the Toros fell 2-1 on Tuesday against the Dynamo in a scrimmage, and believes the team’s fans will be impressed with the talent the club has put together for its inaugural season.
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After being on the move for much of the preseason, he’s also looking forward to seeing the Toros’ new home, with the 10,000-seat stadium set to be completed for RGV FC’s home opener on April 30 against the LA Galaxy II.
“From what I’ve heard it’s going to be fantastic,” Catic said. “I think all the guys are really excited for us to get into our new facility and get going with that.”
More than anything, though, Catic is ready to put a tough year behind him and live up to the potential people have seen in his play.“I’m just looking forward to playing again, to be honest,” Catic said. “I find fun and enjoyment in playing, so I’m looking forward to that. … I’m not looking too far ahead or anything, I’m just focused on improving every year and helping the team in any way I can.”