The cube has landed.
After signing for a club record transfer in December, spending a six-month loan stint with Chivas Guadalajara, and waiting for a lengthy visa process to sort itself out, forward Erick “Cubo” Torres is in town for good and officially a member of the Houston Dynamo.
“We’re extremely excited to have Cubo in market and joining the Dynamo,” club president Chris Canetti told MLSsoccer.com by phone Thursday. “It’s been several months since we announced the signing and there’s been a lot of anticipation for his arrival. This is the biggest signing in the history of the team. It creates a lot of energy for the club and the fanbase and finally getting to this point is very exciting.”
Torres was eligible to join the club with the opening of the transfer window on July 8, but a delay in the visa process kept the forward grounded in Mexico.
“We were simply waiting for the right time for him to apply for his visa and we needed various steps to the process to play out before we did,” Canetti said. “We’re certainly glad to have him and look forward to him getting on the field and contributing to our success going forward.”
While with Chivas, Torres was investigated for an alleged sexual assault. He was cleared of all charges by local authorities and by an independent review by MLS.
Now that he is officially on the roster, Torres is slated to join in Friday’s closed-door training session before leaving with the team to play Real Salt Lake on Saturday (10 pm ET, MLS LIVE) and then head to Kansas City to play Sporting KC in a US Open Cup match on Tuesday.
Where Torres will fit into the Dynamo set-up may not truly be known for a few weeks. He has trained with Chivas while waiting for his visa approval, but his fitness levels and ability to fit into head coach Owen Coyle’s plans still need to be determined.
“We’re delighted now to get him on board and where we’re at now is we have to build up that level of fitness, that level of sharpness,” Coyle told MLSsoccer.com in a phone interview Thursday evening. “It’s important that we can’t rush him too soon, we have to build the fitness level up that his game requires; and that’s what we’ll look to do in the coming weeks. We now have to get that match sharpness.”
While fitness is the first priority there is also the question of where he will actually play.
As a big signing Torres is not likely to sit the bench, of course. However, Will Bruin leads the team with eight goals and fellow forward Giles Barnes, who admittedly drops into midfield often, is second with six. The latter is away on international duty with Jamaica – who are in the knockout stages of the Gold Cup – but finding the right fit for three of the club’s best players will be a task for Coyle moving forward.
“I’m of the firm belief that all those boys can play together,” Coyle said. “The good thing is that good players like playing with good players and every one of those boys are. They can complement each other with no issues and no problems. The important thing is to get everybody in prime condition and then it’s important to get the balance right.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.