Wilf Thorne/Houston Dynamo

Tomás Martínez seeks to live up to responsibility given with the No. 10 shirt

The offseason shuffle of players in and out of the club also means a shuffle of numbers, as players grab up their favorite digits to grace their gear for the new season.

One switch sure to catch the eye in the Dynamo locker room this season is midfielder Tomás Martínez, who will don No. 10 this season after wearing No. 25 for half a season in 2017. Traditionally, the number 10 in soccer is given to a team's chief playmaker – one of the most important players on the field. The symbolism isn't lost on Martínez.

"It’s special because I think the number 10 is always a very important number on the team," Martínez told reporters after practice on Wednesday. "I hope to defend it well."

Martínez joined the Dynamo during the summer transfer window in 2017 and integrated well into the side, scoring twice in 501 regular season minutes and starts in all five postseason matches, with one assist. The Dynamo technical staff knew there would be an adaptation period for the 22-year-old Argentine last year, but this year they are looking for him to take charge of the attack.

"Tomás has to be (a ‘number 10’). He has to take that role because that’s one of the reasons we brought him," head coach Wilmer Cabrera said. "We expect that he feels more comfortable every day. He is young, only 22 years old. We want for him to know that his role is respected, but also to let him know about the responsibility he has.”

Martínez learned that responsibility from the last Dynamo player to wear the number, Vicente Sánchez. The two South Americans were frequently at each others' side last year, with Martínez learning first-hand from one of the best. 

The young playmaker knows, however, that the number on his back is not the end-all, be-all for him – what matters most will be the performances he puts out on the field to live up to the responsibility.

"I believe it’s just a number, it doesn’t mean anything other than going out on the field, giving my all and playing," Martínez said. "Although last year was a great year, we have to move on and strive for more this season.”