South American grinta, North American adaptation

Wilmer Cabrera, 51, oozes experience as a player and coach

A new chapter begins for the Montreal Impact. Wilmer, the 51-year-old Colombian head coach, takes charge of the first team as of right now. In the short-term, Cabrera’s mandate is clear: bring his troops to the MLS Cup playoffs by finishing in the top 7 and win the Voyageurs Cup for the first time since 2014.

The former Colombian international defender, who took part in two FIFA World Cups, in 1990 and 1998, and in four Copa Americas, in 1989, 1991, 1995, and 1997, has 50 games of experience with Los Cateferos, in a career spanning over 500 games. His resumé as a player includes three Columbian league titles and one Columbian Cup. Cabrera wore the colours of Independiente about a decade before our Nacho Piatti did the same…

Cabrera’s coaching career began in 2005, the year he retired as a professional player. He took classes at Suffolk College and got a head coaching job at BW Gottschee Academy, the Academy of a club the Impact faces in USSDA. He then continued learning about his craft with US Soccer’s U17 team, from 2007 to 2012, getting more acclimated with the North American style by getting closer to MLS, which he finally joined in 2012 as an assistant coach for the Colorado Rapids. The Columbian stayed in the Rockies for two years, taking the reins after of the now defunct Chivas USA in 2014 for its last season of existence.

In 2016, Houston came calling. The team just finished last in the West and needed to bounce back. Cabrera accepted the challenge and excelled: Houston finished fourth in the Western Conference in 2017, making its way to the Conference Final, where the Texans were defeated by the Seattle Sounders FC. This pushed the team the following year, as they hoped to progress further. In the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, Cabrera’s men won five consecutive games, beating Sporting Kansas City, LAFC, and the Philadelphia Union to lift the national trophy.

This season, after a promising start, during which the team won six of its first eight games, the Dynamo went through a more difficult stretch, and following a sequence of seven losses in eight games – the one win coming against Toronto FC – Cabrera was dismissed. A week later, the Impact announced his hiring. The new coach’s first game will take place against the team he most recently beat, our rival, TFC, on Saturday at 7:30pm at BMO Field (TVA Sports, TSN, 98,5, TSN 690).