When the Houston Dynamo entered preseason in January, the goal was clear – to return to the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. A playoff run to the Western Conference Championship later, the Dynamo now want to build sustained success with a core of young players.
In Wilmer Cabrera’s first year as the club’s head coach, the Dynamo enjoyed its first winning season since 2013 with a 13-10-11 record. The club also set new record of 57 goals scored, with 38 of those coming at the feet of players under the age of 25 – paying dividends for a youth movement that was in the works months before.
“We established goals to rebuild the roster, to get the team younger, more dynamic, faster, more depth,” said General Manager/Vice President Matt Jordan at the club’s season-ending press conference. “We added a lot of young exciting players in that process. The average age of our DP's is the youngest in the league at 22-years-old, the average age of our TAM players is 24-years-old.”
The designated players mentioned are Alberth Elis, Erick Torres and Tomás Martínez and Targeted Allocation Money was utilized on the contracts of Mauro Manotas, Juan David Cabezas and Romell Quioto. All of these players had implications on the attacking side of the ball that led to three forwards scoring at least 10 goals.
The Dynamo aim to continue their youth movement and success into the future thanks to "a complete technical structure" with every step up the club's pyramid in place. Young players in the Houston area can look to players like Memo Rodriguez, who has seen playing time at every level from the Academy to MLS.
“We have the First Team, we work diligently with our USL team, we started our PDL team, there has been restructuring at the DA (Developmental Academy) with the 19’s, 17’s and 15’s," Jordan said. "For as old as our team is, this is the first time in the history of the team where we have a complete structure in place.”
Cabrera himself is a success of the Dynamo’s technical structure as his ascension to the head coaching job came after leading RGVFC through their inaugural season in 2016. Cabrera took a new teamhe team hit its stride after July, when they put together two separate unbeaten streaks of six-games during the regular season.
The team ultimately finished fourth in the Western Conference during the regular season, holding the top spot a couple times during the season. They finished among the last four in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs but the absence of lifting a trophy after their last match left the team wanting more.
“Our goal from the beginning was to try to make things happen on the field for the Houston Dynamo,” said Cabrera. “Sadly, we came up short for the Western Conference title against a very good team the Seattle Sounders, but we are in debt with ourselves, the Houston Dynamo and the fans. We want more and with that mentality and with that dream we are working to improve the team for the 2018 MLS season.”