Joining a new league can be difficult for most players. Joining a new league where you don’t know the language can be especially tough. For Brazilians Zeca and Thiago, this was the case as the two players joined the Houston Dynamo for the 2022 season. After a couple of months in Houston, the two players have begun to settle in and look to become an integral part in what the Dynamo are building.
With Major League Soccer locker rooms once again open to the media, we got a chance to talk to both Zeca and Thiago (quotes translated from Portuguese) on being in Houston and adapting to the city, fighting for first team minutes, and of course, their favorite churrascos in Houston.
Zeca, who got another start at right back last night in the win against Nashville, spoke about being in Houston and how adapting to the city. “We are happy to be here,” he said. “Adapting to the area and to the team was seamless. The team was welcoming and took us in. Paulo (Nagamura) is always in constant communication with us to reassure us and make us feel at home. From the first day we arrived to today, we felt this is our home and happy to be part of this group.”
Thiago echoed Zeca’s sentiment and also spoke about how head coach Paulo Nagamura, who is also Brazilian and speaks Portuguese, has made the two new players feel at home, although it hasn’t been easy for the young winger. “We are very happy to be here like Zeca mentioned,” Thiago said. “From the first day I arrived here, not only me, but others like Zeca and the new signings, we feel welcomed to this club. Not only by the players but also the staff, personnel and Paulo have helped me to feel welcomed and part of the club. This motivated me to do my best. Adapting to Houston, in my case, has been difficult for me. The hour change and being away from loved ones is hard but my transition to the team has been fast for me.”
Both players have had to fight for first team minutes since coming to the Dynamo. Zeca made a number of sub apperances and has now begun to break into the starting eleven. Thiago has got some time with Dynamo 2 and in US Open Cup games, as well as 2 brief cameos in MLS play.
“It’s normal because every player has to train and be ready in every moment,” Zeca said when speaking about fighting to get first team minutes. “When Paulo needs us, we have to be ready. We have to push ourselves in training and understand how the team plays. Every time we are out training, our physicality increases. Our match readiness will always come. My mindset is to help the team. Everyone here has to give their all to be part of the starting eleven. In that way, the players and the team grows together and wins matches and cups for the team.”
Thiago has yet to get a start in a MLS game but he knows his moment will come, if he keeps working hard. “As of the moment, I’m not in the first team, Thiago said. “Like Zeca touched on before, we have to give our best so when the time comes, we will be ready for the call up. I’m giving my all in training. Every day and every training I’m trying to prove myself that I can belong in the first team. I’m happy to part of the second team (Houston Dynamo 2) as well, but I’m working hard to earn the opportunity to contribute the first team.”
Of course, we couldn’t let the two new Brazilians go without asking them about their favorite Brazilian food, or churrascos, in Houston. “Of course, I went to Casa do Brazil,” Zeca told us. “Also, Chama Gaucha is really good here. I went to both and I love how the meat is prepared like at home.” For Thiago, he’ll leave the meal planning to his tea-mmate. “Same as Zeca. Wherever he goes, I go. Both places are good in my opinion.”
A big thank you to both Zeca and Thiago for taking the time after the match to share their thoughts and we wish them all the best here in Houston with the Dynamo.