HOUSTON - The Houston Dynamo had two objectives heading into the offseason: hire a coach and retool a roster that finished last in the Western Conference.
The first objective was accomplished quick. On Oct. 28 — five days after their season ended — Houston named Wilmer Cabrera the team’s head coach.
Five days into 2017, the second objective moved closer to completion when the Dynamo presented five of their new signings — forwards Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto, midfielder Juan David Cabezas, and defenders Adolfo Machado and Dylan Remick — to local media.
“This team, just on paper, we are going to be more respected by our opponent,” said Cabrera at the press conference on Houston’s retooled roster.
The retooling process for the Dynamo started soon after Cabrera was announced as head coach. In looking for players, Dynamo VP/GM Matt Jordan and Cabrera wanted to add ones that were younger, athletic and dynamic, and that could help strengthen each the team's lines in order to improve its overall quality. Additionally, they wanted players that would complement the current roster.
Over the past two-and-a-half months, Jordan and Cabrera visited eight countries in Europe, Central America and South America to scout players that would fit their vision
“We had a lot of planes, trains and automobiles throughout the process. A lot of late meetings,” said Jordan at the press conference.
“It’s been a blend of traditional scouting — watching players live, then in person, meeting with them, getting to know their personalities, knowing that these players fit with our club’s philosophy and our club’s approach — with the blend of using more advanced scouting with the use of data and analytical and performance metrics, which helps to validate a lot of the decisions we make.”
Cabrera also wanted players that could play in the scorching hot Houston weather. Cabrera said that not every player can play in Houston because of the temperatures, “so we had to be sure that we bring the right ones to make an impact right away.”
Three of the five players introduced also bring championship experience to the Dynamo. Quioto, with Honduran side Olimpia, Machado, with Costa Rican side Saprissa, and Cabezas, with Colombian side Medellin, lifted trophies in their respective domestic leagues before joining the Dynamo.
“They have proven that they can win and they know how to win,” said Cabrera. “And they’re hungry now to bring that experience, those skills, and that desire, to the Houston Dynamo.”
Four of the five players introduced have experience at the international level as well. Elis and Quioto are mainstays with Honduras, as is Machado with Panama. Cabezas represented Colombia at the youth level, playing alongside Real Madrid's James Rodriguez.
All four add to the Hispanic makeup of the team, but Cabrera was adamant that no matter the roster’s heavy Latin influence, the Dynamo aren’t going to play like a South American team or a Central American team.
"We're going to play like an MLS team because we live in Houston," he insisted. "Because we play in the MLS and because our characteristics are for MLS."