HOUSTON – There’s no denying the impact 37-year-old Vicente Sanchez has had on the Houston Dynamo — his two goals and six assists are evidence of that. But beyond the stats and his skills on the ball on game day, the forward has also taken on the role of mentor with the team.
Years ago, it was Sanchez on the receiving end of the mentoring. The Uruguayan international played – and rose to prominence – during a seven-year stint with Liga MX club Toluca, and it’s those memories that have now served him as tools as he’s become a veteran for La Naranja.
“When I was a player with Toluca, [Jose] Cardozo, [Hernan] Cristante and Fabian Estay were important players in my life, but more so than that they were an example. From how they train, to how they wanted to improve their game despite their age,” Sanchez said.
“Nowadays, I try to do the same. I try to show them [teammates] that age doesn’t matter. What matters more is the will you have to want to play this beautiful game. To live football. To love football. And I try to show them in each training that you can train at 100 percent.”
The Dynamo are stocked, locked, and loaded with young attacking talent and Sanchez is the elder statesman of the bunch. His veteran leadership and mentoring of the young players is something that Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera expected out of him.
“When you’re an experienced and veteran player, when you’re in the locker room you have to bring good mentality, good communication, good attitude and be a role model in the locker room and off the field,” Cabrera said.
This isn’t Cabrera’s first go-around with Sanchez. The two crossed paths when Cabrera was an assistant coach in 2015 with the Colorado Rapids and the connection led to him calling on Sanchez to join the Dynamo.
That Sanchez has been a spark plug off the bench in the end of the season and playoffs is no surprise to Cabrera. After Houston’s 1-0 win over Sporting KC in the Knockout Round of the playoffs, where Sanchez came off the bench and set up the winning goal, Cabrera said it’s why he brought him to Houston.
Ricardo Clark, another Dynamo veteran, said Sanchez knows how to motivate people and get them going adding, “whenever he’s called upon he’s been leading by example on the field.”
Leading by examples is something Sanchez picked up during his time at Toluca and carried with him when he moved to German side Schalke 04, and then when he returned to North America.
Now, in the midst of this Dynamo playoff run, Sanchez’s mentoring continues and he’s not picky as to who he shares his wisdom with.
“I try to be with everybody the same,” Sanchez said. “This is a young team. It’s a strong team, and it’s united.”