Houston Dynamo forward Erick ‘Cubo’ Torres has many goals in mind as the 2016 season nears, and scoring them is high on that list. In doing so, he could check another item off his list: putting the 2015 season in the rearview mirror.
Torres, one of the most electric young players in MLS in 2014 when he scored 15 goals for Chivas USA, followed up his breakout campaign with a year to forget. He saw inconsistent playing time in 2015 with both Chivas Guadalajara in Mexico and the Houston Dynamo in MLS, failing to score a single goal in 431 combined minutes of league play, while also fighting a sexual assault allegation from which he was eventually cleared.
Despite all the chaos of the past year, the 23-year-old has an optimistic view.
“I have many positive memories that I rescued from 2015,” Torres told MLSsoccer.com via telephone. “And they’re helping me kick off this preseason in the best form possible.”
Ultimately, though, Torres knows that being in a good state of mind is only part of the battle to claim a regular spot in Dynamo manager Owen Coyle’s starting XI.
“I’m preparing by having a good preseason and being in the best shape possible,” said Torres. “I need to score goals and God willing be able to play more minutes this season.”
But even when Torres is not scoring goals this season, he still wants to be effective on the field. To that end, he has been focusing on the little things that make forwards valuable commodities.
“I’m working a lot on improving my hold-up play, working the wings harder and winning more aerial battles,” said Torres. “These things will help my teammates get into scoring positions and open up the field for the team.”
Still, it’s hitting those goalscoring marks that will be the biggest boon for the Dynamo, who have failed to make the playoffs in consecutive years. Torres finally scored his first goal for the Dynamo on Saturday, a penalty kick that proved the game-winner in a 1-0 preseason win over San Jose (Watch: Torres speaks to HoustonDynamo.com after the match).
“I know myself, I know the goals will come with the playing time,” said Torres. “Scoring one goal can lead to 10 or 15 goals in a span of games.”
He demonstrated as much during a strong 2016 Olympic qualifying campaign, where he grabbed a garbage-time goal in Mexico’s group opener before netting subsequent, vital game-winners in their group stage finale against Honduras and a semifinal contest vs. Canada.
That impressive run was only a glimpse of what Torres can offer on the international stage. But he knows he needs to improve his club form if he is to gain a place on the Mexican U-23 national team that is set to defend its gold medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
“There’s a lot of competition and a lot of players of high quality, so the competition for spots will be tough,” Torres said. “I want to represent my country with dignity, how it’s supposed to be and certainly with hard work and the help of my Dynamo teammates, I’ll get there.”
Follow Jesus Acevedo Jr. (@jhacevedo) on Twitter.