Houston Dynamo coach Tab Ramos addressed the media Wednesday, following the announcement of the leagues return to live action. The announcement came on Wednesday morning, one day before the team was set for a full competition training session on Thursday.
The Houston Dynamo and Ramos feel as if they have an advantage considering Ramos’ work with the national team over the previous eight years. As a coach for the national team, a lot of preparation was done prior to the players arriving at a camp. They were always hungry for competition. He expects his players to be as well.
“First, I think it is very exciting for the players. I really can’t wait to see them tomorrow, because as they come in to training it is the first day where they can actually have contact tomorrow. I think it will be exciting for them, obviously these type of athletes at this level they are incredibly competitive and not having had the opportunity to compete day-in and day-out, I’m sure that is something they miss a lot. That is the first part of it, and then obviously seeing the tournament - you know the way it is going to fall, our first game could be anytime between the (eighth) of July and the 11th of July. As you likely know, the schedule and the draw comes out tomorrow so once we know that we will know the exact date and we will start working towards that.” - Dynamo head coach Tab Ramos
The tournament is similar to a World Cup format. The first games are set for July 8th. The Dynamo will play in Group F along with the LA Galaxy, LAFC, and Portland Timbers.
“I feel good about it. I was afraid we were going to get less time to prepare. I think a month is actually a good time to be well prepared to play our first game. Obviously, we have been together now for about three weeks, but the players have not been able to compete. Physically we are starting to get them to a good level, but now the playing part is the most difficult. I feel good about it. I think there is plenty of time to be well prepared for the first game.” - Ramos
For all the negatives of COVID-19, there was one big positive for the Houston Dynamo from an on-field perspective, the team will almost be back to full strength by the time the tournament gets underway.
“It looks like at this point that Kiki (Struna), as we start tomorrow, he will be doing some of the exercises with us already. So, he is very close to being 100 percent with us. Jose (Bizama) is likely maybe one or two weeks away. But it is likely that we go into the season - obviously we don’t know what will happen in the next four weeks - but hopefully we will go into the season with a healthy Jose Bizama, a healthy Darwin Quintero and a healthy Alberth Elis. That is something we didn’t have when the season started, and also Victor Cabrera. So that will be four guys that we could potentially start the new season that we didn’t have at the beginning.” - Ramos
One of the challenges facing Ramos and the Dynamo is the evaluation process of the players for fitness, and skill and who fits where tactically.
“The truth is that it is very difficult. What we are evaluating is the physical work. In other words, the players work with GPS, we know the meters they cover every day, we know the capacity they are giving us, we know the percentage of the speed that they run every day taking as much as each one has. In general, the only evaluation that can be done so far is the physical evaluation because the players have not been able to compete. Then they are seen coming to training, that physically they are gradually improving. If they have touched the ball, if they have done exercises which can improve their technique, but in terms of being able to evaluate them without the players being competing if it is very difficult “ - Ramos
Following the tournament, which will count group play as part of the regular season, the league will return to an abbreviated season. Garber was unable to elaborate on the specifics yet, but was enthused that following the tournament in Orlando, Florida, the league could get back to a semblance of normalcy.