The Houston Dynamo opened the 2018 season with a 4-0 win over Atlanta United FC last Saturday, leaving many around the country impressed. The dominant opening day performance and took place without likely starting midfielder Tomás Martínez due to a suspension that carried over from the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs. He’ll be ready if called upon this Saturday as La Naranja welcomes Vancouver Whitecaps FC (5:00 p.m., TICKETS).
“I missed the first game because of the sending off [against Seattle Sounders FC in November] but one always prepares to play afterwards,” said Martínez. “Obviously, when I was [in the stands] I wanted to come into the game but I think my teammates that got to play did it very well. Now we must continue like this, not relax, and give it our all because now comes a very hard game.”
The Béccar, Argentina native turned 23 on Wednesday and is one of the club’s Designated Players along with 22-year-old Alberth Elis. He arrived with the Dynamo on July 17, 2017 and debuted last August in a 3-0 home win over the San Jose Earthquakes.
The midfielder just underwent his first preseason with the Dynamo and has been active with the team off the field. Martínez, along with defender A.J. DeLaGarza and midfielder Eric Bird, took part in an afternoon clinic with students from Project Chrysalis Middle School as part of a Dynamo community event in the East End last Friday.
“It’s something that’s very special, not only for us but for the kids,” said Martínez. “When I was a boy and attended the school of [Club Atlético River Plate] and saw the players go by, it was a very nice hope for me. Later I was able to fulfill my dream so it's good that we can be a motivation, or at least someone who can be a role model so that they can achieve their dreams.”
Martínez featured in nine regular season matches, five as a starter, in 2017 and scored on two occasions. He started in all five of the Dynamo’s postseason matches, playing almost as many minutes in the playoffs as he did in the regular season.
This year, the Argentine playmaker is expected to have more responsibility in Wilmer Cabrera’s plans and his new kit designation may signify that – he was assigned the number 10 in preseason following Vicente Sanchez’s retirement. Martínez has expressed his full commitment to the Dynamo and is ready for his first minutes on Saturday.
“From here until the end of the season, we want to win every game,” said Martínez. “We are going always for the three points. We will never go out for a draw. I think [Vancouver] is a very tough opponent, we faced them last year, but well, we also have tools and we are going to do our best.”