If you search “Eric Bird” on Twitter like I did, you’ll find a multitude of things, “Eric Bird gets a shot” “Shout-out to Eric Bird for that almost assist.” “Eric Bird clears out the box.” Someone even scored a goal with Eric Bird on RGVFC in a modded version of FIFA. The search results sum up what Bird does for the Toros: a little bit of everything.
“(I) try to do whatever’s best for my team, that’s kind of my first instinct as a midfielder,” Bird said following Rio Grande Valley FC’s home victory over Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, where Bird notched an assist on the Toros’ final goal.
Before his signing with Rio Grande Valley FC, Bird spent time with the Philadelphia Union, and before that, Bird was the maestro in midfield for the University of Virginia Cavaliers, an experience aided by his time in the NPSL. With the NPSL, Bird played with RVA FC, led by former Bundesliga midfielder Grover Gibson, which is now Fredericksburg FC.
The experience with the club kept Bird sharp for his season at Virginia, where he would go on to win the national championship the next season, along with six other NPSL alums on the Cavaliers roster. Bird’s time with Grover and RVA FC helped him begin his professional career.
“Grover’s a fantastic player, a fantastic coach,” Bird said. “He offered a whole heckuva lot for me over that summer through his experiences and previous experience. It was a really good experience and great learning experience and I can say I had a great time with him that summer.”
Bird’s senior season with the Cavaliers not only led to a national championship, but also saw him earn Second-Team All-America and First-Team All-ACC Honors along the way. Over his collegiate career, Bird netted 15 goals as well as 10 assists, with 5 of the midfielder’s goals classified as game-winners.
Virginia head men’s soccer coach George Gelnovatch has some high praise for Bird.
“Eric was one of the best leaders that I ever had her at Virginia. His leadership and talent were instrumental in helping us advance to the 2013 College Cup, and then going on to win a National Championship in 2014.”
Gelnovatch noted Bird’s leadership while being forced to sit out for the first three rounds due to injury.
“He couldn’t help us on the field, but found a way to be just as effective in helping us advance through leadership and character.”
No matter what level of soccer Bird finds himself, he wins. In high school, Bird led his team to two state titles and earned himself State Player of the Year honors in Virginia to boot. From there he helped lead the University of Virginia Cavaliers to four NCAA Tournament appearances and a pair of College Cups, one of which, of course, he helped UVA win.
After donning the captain’s armband throughout Virginia’s championship campaign in 2014, Bird was selected by the Philadelphia Union in the MLS SuperDraft where he spent time with them as well as the Harrisburg City Islanders before signing with Rio Grande Valley FC in 2016.
In the 2016 season, Bird appeared in 22 matches for the Toros and added first goals in his first season there. Like he has everywhere else, Bird helped RVGFC win matches, as the Toros finished second in the Western Division. Regardless of the results and numbers, Bird is living his dream.
“I’m doing what I love,” Bird said on his signing, “It all made sense so I was very excited to get down here and get on the field.”
As far as 2017, Bird’s goals are simple: “Win the next game, stay in touch with the family, talk to my mom, and win every game.”