The Houston Dynamo announced on Friday that they have hired Wilmer Cabrera as their next head coach. The announcement comes one day after the move was first reported by FourFourTwo’s Paul Tenorio.
Cabrera comes to Houston after spending 2016 with the club’s USL affiliate, Rio Grande Valley FC. The former Chivas USA head coach led RGV FC to the playoffs in their inaugural season in USL, guiding the team to a second-place finish in the Western Conference in the regular season before they were bounced by Oklahoma City Energy FC in the first round of the postseason.
Cabrera was hired to his RGV FC post by the Dynamo, who oversee soccer operations for the independently owned club.
“We are very pleased to welcome Wilmer Cabrera to the Houston Dynamo,” said Dynamo vice president/general manager Matt Jordan in a team statement. “His experience, work ethic and unique background, having coached at every level of soccer in this country, including the professional level and with the US national team programs in player development, will greatly benefit our club as we move forward. I’m excited to begin working with him to put together the 2017 Houston Dynamo and build towards getting us back to where we all want to be.”
A former Colombian international, Cabrera has over a decade of experience at several levels of the US game, most notably coaching Chivas USA for their final season in 2014. Cabrera was 9-19-6 in his one year with the club, which folded following the 2014 season.
Prior to his stint at Chivas USA, Cabrera spent two years as an assistant under current FC Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja at the Colorado Rapids. He was manager of the US Under-17 national team from 2007-2012, leading the team to the Round of 16 at the 2009 and 2011 U-17 World Cups.
Cabrera also has worked with Dynamo Designated Player striker Erick “Cubo” Torres, who is currently on loan at Mexican club Cruz Azul. The two were paired together at Chivas USA in 2014, when Torres scored 15 goals in 29 regular season appearances. Cruz Azul hold an option to buy Torres outright in January – if they don’t exercise that offer, the 23-year-old will return to Houston.
“I am excited to join the Houston Dynamo. It’s a great club with a great history, and I am ready for the challenge,” Cabrera said. “I look forward to working with the ownership group, management, our staff and the players to return the Dynamo to the level that the club and our fans deserve and expect.”
Houston missed the playoffs for the third straight year in 2016, finishing the season in last in the West with a 7-14-13 record. The club experienced some turbulence on the coaching staff, as former manager Owen Coyle left the team in May to return home to to the United Kingdom, leaving longtime assistant Wade Barrett in charge on an interim basis.
Houston were 4-7-11 in 22 games under Barrett, who was informed earlier this week that he wouldn’t be hired as the club’s full-time head coach. Barrett was offered a position on the club’s technical staff – GM Matt Jordan told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday that Barrett is taking some time to decide whether to accept his new role.
"This is an important time for the Dynamo organization and an important appointment in the process of returning the club to its winning ways,” said Dynamo president Chris Canetti. “The management team and the board of directors underwent a thorough and collaborative review of the coaching decision and we confidently agree that Wilmer is the right choice for us at this moment."