HOUSTON – Some could say that Tomas Martinez, signed by the Houston Dynamo as a Young Designated Player during the summer of 2017, hasn’t reached his full potential.

However, Dynamo coach Wilmer Cabrera takes on a different tact, believing the Argentine is maturing with every game and been underrated for his work in the starting XI. 

“He works a lot; he runs during the 90 minutes,” Cabrera said of Martinez’s evolution. “So he has managed to earn his position in the team, the respect of his teammates by doing well, working and assisting or doing goals. And today he had a prize.”

That prize, of course, was a 60th-minute game-winner in Houston’s 2-1 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday. He also drew a penalty kick that Mauro Manotas ultimately pinged off the post.

That marks continued progress from a 2018 season in which Martinez featured in 32 games, 31 as a starter. He also contributed five goals and 13 assists.

“When he plays with the simplicity that he played most of [this] game, he can achieve with the force that he has to get to the opposite goal and, like today, score a goal,” Cabrera said.

Signed from Portuguese club Braga, the 24-year-old came through Argentine power River Plate's youth system, and played extensively with Argentina’s U-20 national team, winning a South American championship in 2015.

That pedigree comes with some added pressure to succeed, even if Martinez arguably hasn’t yet reached his ceiling. Still, the No. 10 has the utmost confidence that his best is yet to come. 

“I am happy with the two seasons I have played,” Martinez said. “I am happy with my level. In the first [season] we reached the end of the conference and the second [season] we won a cup that the team had never won. In this [season], we are on the right track.”

With Martinez rounding into form, the Dynamo are off to a flying start (4-0-1, 13 points). He attributed that to the squad feeling more comfortable in Cabrera’s system. 

“It’s a team that has been playing together for a long time,” Martinez said. “We all know each other very well. We have gone through good things and bad things, from several defeats, for several victories. We already know both.”