FOXBORO, Mass. — Erick “Cubo” Torres finally met his match.
With six goals through the Houston Dynamo’s first four games, the 24-year-old was arguably Major League Soccer’s most in-form striker entering the weekend. However, the New England Revolution’s new-look back line stymied the forward in a 2-0 win on Saturday afternoon.
“He’s one of the best strikers in the league,” said Revs’ center back Antonio Delamea. “I like the way he moves, he’s really hard to cover. We were maybe a little lucky back there when he went 1-on-1 with our goalkeeper.”
Torres, who is two tallies shy of 30 career MLS goals, finished the game without a shot. Even Torres’ two wingers, Mauro Manotas and Alberth Ellis, never tested Cody Cropper as the Dynamo were shut out for the first time this year.
The Mexican international had a golden opportunity to make it a 1-1 game in the 61st minute, but couldn’t make the most of a breakaway as Cropper rushed out of the Revs’ goal to deny Torres.
“They did a good job defensively,” Torres said. “We had our challenges, we stopped doing some of the good things we had done before.”
For New England head coach Jay Heaps, the stifling of Torres had a simple explanation. He pointed to Cropper, the partnership between rookie Josh Smith and Delamea and holding midfielder Xavier Kouassi all as vital cogs.
Their combined efforts had an extra element, though. Kelyn Rowe, normally a midfielder, lined up at left back, and gave much credit to his teammates for keeping Torres off the scoresheet.
“I thought our two center backs, Josh Smith and Antonio Delamea, did incredibly with him,” Rowe said. “I thought every time he got the ball, one of them was on his back, making it hard for him. He never really had a chance in behind besides the one Cody did really well on.”
With Torres unable to find his finishing boots, the Dynamo dropped their second away game of the season in as many contests. The result also gave New England its first shutout of the 2017 season.
And, perhaps most of all, the Revs found a winning formula against Cabrera’s side: Shut down Cubo, shut down Houston.
“Everyone in the back line and the midfield and even the forwards, we did a good job defending,” said Revs right back Andrew Farrell. “I don’t think Houston got too many balls into Torres’ feet, which was a good job by our forwards and midfield. When he got it, we closed him down.”