Wilmer Cabrera has accepted the challenge.
The former Colombian international player is the new head coach of the Houston Dynamo. Cabrera, who was unveiled Friday afternoon as the fourth coach in Dynamo history, admitted that he took the job for the pressure and the challenge.
“The pressure to be sitting in front of this important institution, which has won, and has a history like the Houston Dynamo, with supporters groups who are eager to have winners again — it’s what brought me here,” Cabrera said during the press conference.
“I’ve been preparing myself well, and that’s why I accept this challenge, because I’m ready. If I wasn’t, I prefer not to accept it.”
While the Dynamo were testing the waters with interim head coach Wade Barrett after Owen Coyle’s departure in May, Cabrera was leading the Dynamo’s USL affiliate, Rio Grande Valley FC, to a second-place finish in the Western Conference in their debut season.
Turns out, Cabrera might have been the interim head coach after Coyle left.
“We had talks but it seems things weren’t clear yet at the time,” Cabrera told MLSsoccer.com after the press conference on whether he was offered the position.
That turn of events couldn’t have worked any better. Cabrera adds that the best thing that could have happened to him was staying with RGVFC to finish developing the Toros’ first year, which was nine games into its inaugural season when Coyle left.
Houston’s USL project was perhaps the primary positive in a difficult season for the Dynamo. Cabrera led the Toros to second place in the Western Conference, but were knocked out in the first round. By season’s end, the Dynamo signed two RGVFC players, midfielder Jose Escalante and defender Kevin Garcia.
Even with the successful season with Rio Grande Valley, Cabrera was looking for a way to stretch his legs a bit and take on a bigger task.
“I was comfortable where I was, calm and with no pressure,” Cabrera said in the press conference. “But I don’t like being like that. I like big challenges and this is a big and important challenge.”
Cabrera’s task with the Dynamo is a clear one. Turn around a franchise that has missed the playoffs the last three seasons after a string of seven-straight appearances, which included four trips to the MLS Cup Final and two titles.
The first step will be to retool the roster. Cabrera noted that there are contributors on the current roster who need to stay and others that need to be replaced, but cautions that the Dynamo can’t change the whole roster.
On the field, Cabrera wants to play a style of soccer he calls “possession with a purpose.” He wants his team to be balanced defensively and offensively and not tilt one way or the other, “because that’s the way I like to play, the way I live and like to coach my team.”
The Dynamo rebirth won’t come easy but Cabrera is ready to get started.
“We have to look at the roster, we have to analyze it, we must try to find players who can fit into what we want for the future of the Houston Dynamo,” Cabrera said during the press conference. “And we begin today. When we’re done here, we’ll be working because we need to start thinking about 2017.”