Today, the Houston Dynamo announced Wilmer Cabrera as the new head coach. The organization got an up close look at his head coaching ability in 2016 as he led the club’s USL side, the RGVFC Toros. They finished 2nd in the Western Conference, and proved to be one of the toughest teams to play in the entire league. Cabrera molded an incredibly young team, one that was brought together in the span of only a few months.
When he was hired as RGVFC’s manager, it made a ton of sense. He was known for his grooming of young talent from his time with the US youth teams. A big reason for his success with youth teams is, Cabrera possesses the ability to balance the right amount of teaching and motivation. “Wilmer is a great motivator in the sense that he gets you to motivate yourself,” says Callum Irving, Toros star goalkeeper. Irving explains, “He knows he can only do so much, so he prepares you to be confident in yourself, which in turn motivates you to perform every match"
In addition to wanting someone to get the most from young talent, two other traits were identified now, and in the past by Dynamo management for their next head coach: MLS experience, and somebody who can be embraced by the largely Hispanic community in Houston. Wilmer was the last head coach of Chivas USA before the team folded, and he was a star for his native Colombian national team. One player excited about having a Latin American coach is former Toro, current Dynamo winger Jose Escalante, who hails from Honduras. “I’m very happy because I know Wilmer, and I know the way they play. The Dynamo can rest easy, we have a great coach,and above all very good human being,” stated Escalante.
With Owen Coyle, the identity was incredibly undetermined. Under Wade Barrett, the club tried to become a tough, grind it out team again. Wilmer’s Toros this season had an incredibly clear gameplan. 2016 RGVFC captain Kevin Garcia breaks it down, “Wilmer implements a possession based style of play. Everyone from the keeper, to the backline, midfield, and forwards need to be bought in to this system. We worked a lot on spacing, individual movements, operating in the right channels, and moving the ball quickly. It became second nature to us. We stood firm by that philosophy the whole year, and can attribute much of our success to outplaying teams with our strong possession.” When you turned on a RGVFC match, you knew what you would see. Whether it was an off day, which there weren’t many of, you still saw a concerted effort to play in that style. An established personality on the pitch like that is something Dynamo fans crave.
To sum up the 2016 Toros’ thoughts about their former boss, here’s a quote from Charlie Ward: “I just want to say I'm really excited for Wilmer and the new job he’s got, he is a excellent coach and also a great person. He deserves his opportunity for what a great job he did with us as a team. Everyone of the lads would speak in high regard for him at RGVFC, and I'm sure all of them would love to play under him again. His passion , dedication and love for the game will shine through for everyone to see. For me personally I would love to play for Wilmer again, his experience and background in developing top young players is a great incentive for me to carry on improving and push towards MLS football.”