RGV FC’s Charlie Ward signs first-team contract with Houston Dynamo

Charlie Ward, a midfielder who has played more minutes for the RGV FC Toros than any other player in franchise history, has signed a first-team contract with the Houston Dynamo of the MLS, the team announced Friday.

Ward is the sixth Toros player to sign a Dynamo contract in the USL club’s year and a half of existence, joining defenders Kevin Garcia, Taylor Hunter and George Malki, midfielder Memo Rodriguez and forward Jose Escalante.

Ward played all of RGV FC’s 2,790 minutes from his midfield position last season and played all 90 minutes in RGV FC’s first nine games of 2017. In the past month, Ward signed a pair of short-term deals with the Dynamo, starting and playing all 90 minutes in the team’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup matches against North Carolina FC on June 14 and Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday.

“Charlie has earned this opportunity to join the First Team through his consistent performances, commitment and professionalism with our USL affiliate RGV FC over the last two seasons along with his recent play in the U.S. Open Cup with the Dynamo,” Dynamo General Manager and Vice President Matt Jordan said in a release. “This signing is another example of the importance of our USL initiative within our club structure to provide our players the platform, when performing well, to take that next step in their career.”

Ward, 22, came to the Toros last season after playing with the Aston Villa and Stoke City youth teams in his native England.

His first season with the Toros was played under coach Wilmer Cabrera, who now coaches the first team with the Dynamo.

“Charlie is an excellent, talented young player who I know very well because I had him for a year with the Toros. Then, we brought him for the preseason, but sadly he got injured and he had to go back with the Toros to start over. Throughout the six months he has played there and every time he comes and join us, he proves that he has enough quality to be part of the Houston Dynamo. After the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup games that he played here, he earned the right to be here because (of) what he has shown in the field and what he has brought to the team,” Cabrera said in a release. “We are happy to bring him, (and) we (are) happy that he has earned the right to be with the first team.”

Ward said in March that his preseason training in Houston had been derailed in the first week by injuries to both calves. He said the injuries cost him three or four weeks and prompted the Dynamo to send him back to the Toros as he worked toward full health.

Through the setback, he said he was frustrated but never lost faith in his ability to reach the first-team level.

“I had an injury which knocked me, and I didn’t get to show my potential there,” Ward said in March. “But I’m ready for MLS football, whether it’s Houston or any other team. I’m ready to play that, I’m sure.”

Throughout his run with the Toros, Ward has been the team’s primary distributor from the back end of the formation. He leads RGV FC this season with 755 passes — 172 more than his closest teammate.

He also posted a Toros-best 90.6 percent passing accuracy and ranks fourth on the club with 15 tackles.

“Charlie is one of those guys who is not replaceable on any team,” Toros forward Ruben Luna said in March. “You need a guy like Charlie on every team. He’s that midfield player who just keeps the group together, from the center backs, to the midfield to the forwards. We’re very lucky to have him.”