HOUSTON — As the Houston Dynamo begin a new preseason and a new era under first-year manager Tab Ramos, Tomas Martinez says those players who have remained through the transition have turned the page from the successes and disappointments of Wilmer Cabrera's tenure.
“I think the atmosphere is very good, we all came with good cheer and looking forward to this year is very good," the Dynamo midfielder said at training this week. "I think that Tab and the technical staff has been good for us. It’s the first days [and] we are already starting to know Tab's ideas for the team this year."
Cabrera had bright moments during his nearly three years at the helm, helping the Dynamo reach the postseason for the first time in four years in 2017 and winning the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. But he was ultimately let go after a prolonged swoon during the 2019 season.
Martinez says players understand many things have changed since last season and are ready to accept the new challenges in order to get the team where they want: back in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.
“The goals of the team are to be first a strong team that can win in any field and especially be united on and off the field," Martinez said. "And it is important that the players that we have been in the team for a long time help the newcomers quickly so they feel comfortable and can help us and have a great year."
Veteran defender Maynor Figueroa knows adjusting to a changing roster and new technical staff is never easy, even if it's sometimes necessary. That said, Figueroa and fellow Honduras international Boniek Garcia are embracing the added importance of veterans like themselves in such a process.
“We have to a lot of responsibility playing that role ... and we are here to help them," Figueroa said. "The team has good young players and as well as some with experience and we are here to help. At the end inside the playing field, we all have the same responsibility, but obviously there are situations that the experienced players have to take the lead and set an example.”
The 2020 season will of course also be a test for Ramos as his first time in charge of an MLS club. So far, Figueroa says Ramos is tackling that challenge in part by trying to create a culture of closeness at the club.
"I think that one of the things he wants is for us to get along as a family," Figueroa said. "As and as such we are already identifying ourselves, and well this just started, and I think the feelings are very good."
As for Ramos' makeup? Figueroa says it is that of a potential champion.
“We have to fight for important things, to fight for a trophy," Figueroa said. "He is a person with a winning spirit and that is something that is already being processed by the team.”