The Houston Dynamo have appointed Wilmer Cabrera as the fourth head coach in team history, the club announced today. Cabrera was introduced at a press conference at BBVA Compass Stadium this afternoon. (EN ESPANOL)
“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.”
Cabrera, 49, has a wealth of coaching experience at multiple levels in North America, including time as a head coach and assistant coach in Major League Soccer, United States Under-17 Boys National Team head coach, and most recently the head coach of the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros, the Dynamo’s hybrid affiliate in the USL.
“We are very pleased to welcome Wilmer Cabrera to the Houston Dynamo,” said Dynamo vice president/general manager Matt Jordan. “His experience, work ethic and unique background, having coached at every level of soccer in this country, including the professional level and with the U.S. 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 native of Colombia, Cabrera is bilingual in English and Spanish and was the first Latin American head coach at the helm of a U.S. national team. He served as head coach of the United States Under-17 Boys National Team from October 2007 to January 2012 and compiled a 36-29-15 record, guiding the U.S. U-17s through two U-17 World Cup qualifying cycles ahead of the 2009 and 2011 FIFA U-17 FIFA World Cups, including progression to the Round of 16 at both tournaments. Cabrera also led his squad to a first-place finish at the 2011 CONCACAF U-17 Championship.
"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."
Cabrera began his MLS coaching career as assistant under current FC Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja for two seasons with the Colorado Rapids (2012-13) before he was head coach of Chivas USA in 2014, the club’s final season in MLS.
As the first head coach of Rio Grande Valley FC, Cabrera guided the expansion club to a record of 14-7-9 and second-place finish in the USL’s Western Conference, a point behind Sacramento Republic FC. RGV FC had the best goal difference – plus 23 – in the Western Conference, and allowed just 24 goals, second-fewest in the 29-team USL, and fewest in the West. The Toros also led the conference with 16 shutouts and set a USL-record with a streak of 760 minutes without conceding a goal in July and August.
RGV FC also scored 47 goals, second-most in the West, trailing LA Galaxy II. They had a 10-game unbeaten streak in the summer and finished the season 7-2-1 over their last ten games. Moreover, the club opened with four straight games on the road and were forced to play home games at two different venues as construction continues on H-E-B Park, a 9,700-seat soccer specific stadium that will open next season.
As a player, the former defender made 48 appearances for the Colombia National Team, including three starts at the 1998 FIFA World Cup, inclusion on the roster at the 1990 FIFA World Cup, and a role at four Copa America tournaments (1989, ’91, ’95 and ’97). His 20-year professional playing career began at age 17 with Independiente Sante Fe in Colombia and included spells in Argentina and Costa Rica before a final stop in the United States with the Long Island Rough Riders.
During his time leading the U.S. Residency Program in Bradenton, Florida the former defender helped develop current MLS veterans Kellyn Acosta, Juan Agudelo, Jordan Allen, Sebastian Lletget, Jack McInerney, Marc Pelosi, Dillon Serna and Jarred Watts as well as Luis Gil (Querétaro), Perry Kitchen (Hearts), Rubio Rubin (FC Utrecht) and numerous others playing internationally.
Cabrera’s career in youth development began as an assistant coach with Suffolk (New York) Community College followed by a stint as coach with the BW Gottschee Academy in New York City.
Before his appointment as the first head coach at Rio Grande Valley FC, Cabrera spent 2015 working for Major League Soccer in various capacities, including scouting and technical study. He was part of the CONCACAF Technical Study Group that analyzed the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship in Honduras. Next, he was a member of the FIFA Technical Study Group for the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile. He joined the CONCACAF Technical Study Group at the 2015 Gold Cup in the United States as well the 2015 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Championship. Cabrera also observed the 2015 CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Jamaica (World Cup qualifying tournament) as well as the 2015 South American Youth Football Championship in Uruguay (U-20 World Cup qualifying tournament).
Cabrera follows Dominic Kinnear (2006-2014), Owen Coyle (2015-May 2016) and Wade Barrett (May-October 2016).