HOUSTON — It’s been a busy winter transfer season for the Houston Dynamo, but after missing the playoffs for a third consecutive year in 2016, big moves were probably to be expected.
And after a flurry of offseason activity, Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera believes that the six new additions — forwards Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto, midfielder Juan David Cabezas, and defenders Dylan Remick, Leonardo and Adolfo Machado — will garner more respect from opposing teams in 2017.
But who are they? And how can they help the Dynamo return to the playoffs? Here’s a closer look:
The most coveted of the acquisitions is arguably Elis (photo above), who has three goals in 15 appearances for the Honduras national team to go along with four goals in four appearances with his native country’s Under-23 team.
After Elis’ strong performance at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, rumors swirled that Everton was circling the water for him, before Liga MX side Monterrey eventually clinched his signature.
“He is 21 years old, but also he is one of the biggest stars in Honduras,” said Cabrera in a press conference to introduce the new players. “He is bringing speed, a lot of goals, a lot of hunger, a lot of 1v1 situation, which is something that we were looking to have for this team this upcoming season.”
Cabrera added that Quioto — who was Elis’ forward partner with Los Catrachos and former Honduran side Olimpia — is a “forward who can play left, center, forward or right and that is going to be important for all of us.”
The 25-year-old Quioto has four goals in 25 appearances with Honduras, and made his name in the Honduran domestic league with 38 goals in 98 appearances for Olimpia. And like Elis, he played at the 2016 Olympics.
The elder statesman of the new signings is Machado (above). The 31-year-old center back is a mainstay with Panama and has spent the last four years as captain of Costa Rican side Saprissa, winning three titles in the process.
“We were fortunate to bring him here,” Cabrera said. “He is a good center back — strong, fast, athletic and very good in terms of tactics.”
Cabrera also applauded Machado’s leadership as an intangible asset that the Panamanian brings to the club.
While Machado — along with Elis, Quioto and Cabezas — will all be first-time MLS players, the Dynamo did also nab two current MLS defenders.
Remick, fresh off a championship-winning season with the Seattle Sounders, was picked up in the MLS Re-Entry Draft. The 24-year-old didn’t get to see much action with the Sounders, but Cabrera believes that should only give him motivation heading into the 2017 campaign.
“He is hungry to come and prove himself with us in Houston,” said Cabrera. “He knows the league, he has been in the league for a while, and we are very excited that he is a lefty.”
The most well-known of the new players is Leonardo. The 28-year-old Brazilian is a three-time MLS Cup winner with the LA Galaxy. Cabrera likes Leonardo’s skill in 1v1 situations, as well as his aerial abilities. The versatile defender can play either center back position.
Cabezas (above), 25, is the sole midfielder among the new players. The Colombian defensive midfielder has represented Los Cafeteros at the youth level, including at the 2011 Under-20 World Cup alongside current Real Madrid star James Rodriguez.
Cabrera has praised Cabezas’ ball-winning ability, especially in the middle of the field.
“He is tactically very smart,” Cabrera said. “Just six months ago he won a championship with Medellin where he was playing and he has also won with Deportivo Cali.”
Winning and championships are exactly what the new-look Dynamo are after with their 2017 overhaul. That quest begins at home against the defending champion Sounders on Saturday, March 4 (8:30 pm ET).