HOUSTON—Erick Torres is off to join the Mexican U-23 national team as they prepare for the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Championship, and both "Cubo" and the Houston Dynamo are hoping his time there provides residual effects.
Torres continues working his way into match fitness, having played a reserve role since joining the Dynamo last month. He made his first start in orange Saturday, during the Dynamo’s 2-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps, after six appearances off the bench.
While it was a solid starting debut for his new club – Torres recorded an assist in 66 minutes of action – El Tri’s camp offers the opportunity for him to get what he needs most: game action.
“We have a fantastic relationship with the federation,” said Dynamo head coach Owen Coyle. “All club head coaches want is lines of communication. Erick’s a different situation because Erick needs games.
"It’s ideal for Erick to go and play a few games the next few weeks. It would probably be ideal for Erick to play a one game, maybe rest and then play 60 minutes of another. That would be ideal because that would, in one instance, help the Dynamo. We all want the same thing.”
Going away with a national team is rarely about getting games. Players are usually called because of their performance for the club team, which benefits the national set-up. In Torres' case, all parties agreed that getting him on the field would be the best-case scenario.
“My situation is different – as Owen said – because of the fact that I need games,” said Torres, through a translator. “I’m going to get 10 days where we’re playing three games and training full throttle. This is going to allow me to get to the next level where I need to be.”
While the Dynamo have struggled with international absences, this is one that could pay off.
Torres’ assist proved his first mark on the score sheet: a near-post run and flick in the 33rd minute led to Ricardo Clark’s winning goal. Clark and Coyle labelled it a difference-making play.
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“Obviously the assist was there," Torres said. "It probably wasn’t the best or flashiest assist, but it got the job done and got the ball to Rico for him to score."
Torres’ best chance Saturday came when Will Bruin squared him in the box, but his final touch was left wanting. Houston are hoping three games with the U-23s will help Torres regain that sharpness.
“We want Erick Torres at his maximum, because when he’s at his maximum he’s such a wonderful talent,” Coyle said. “We want to make sure he’s 100 percent, he’s sharp, he’s fresh and he shows his quality. I don’t ever worry about strikers scoring chances; my concern with a striker is if you’re not getting chances because that means your runs are all wrong. Erick Torres will always find the right positions to score goals. I have no concerns, I just need to get him match sharp.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo.