The Houston Dynamo have hit the training ground to kick off preseason camp and hopes are high of bettering last year’s playoff run that ended in the Western Conference Championship. Having reached that far, the team wants more in 2018.
Of the 24 players currently under contract, 19 return from the first team roster that finished the season. The club have added five reinforcements with the intent to add a different dimension to a team that was one round away from MLS Cup.
“We are not a surprise anymore,” said head coach Wilmer Cabrera. “Everyone is waiting for us thinking that we are just going to counterattack, but we will see. We are going to prepare ourselves for more, and we have to be able to display different things if we want to be more competitive and create more difficulties for the opponents.”
With the average age of their attacking quartet hovering just under 24 – and the team’s around 27 – the Dynamo are poised to sustain their success into the new year, though it wont be handed to them as others reinforce their squads around the league.
“We know that all the teams have been built very well,” said Alberth Elis. “They have reinforced very well, just like we have. We know that it will not be easy this year, everyone knows us very well. Maybe last year nobody expected anything from us but this year they know what we can do.”
The biggest splashes of the Dynamo's offseason weren't on bringing in big names from overseas, but locking in the big names developed during the 2017. The club immediately went to work on securing the permanent transfers of both Elis and midfielder Juan David Cabezas, who had been named Team MVP.
The club began their preparations there and proceeded to add a few veterans, like goalkeeper Chris Seitz an midfielder Arturo Álvarez, along with young, dynamic players like Alejandro Fuenmayor, Darwin Cerén and Eric Bird.
In year two of Wilmer Cabrera’s term as head coach, the Colombian tactician has expressed his desire to evolve the work of his previous year. The learning curve is over and – as Cabrera alluded to in his analogy to open the preseason – it’s time for the Dynamo to graduate.
"For a year we have had a working dynamic, as much with the technical staff as with the administration, with the executive part and with the players,” said Cabrera. “Now we have a solid base of players that repeat, so we believe we can move forward in the work we want to do to prepare and be smarter this next season."