A winless April, in which the Houston Dynamo secured one point from four games, forced head coach Owen Coyle’s hand: he had to make lineup changes. On Saturday, that meant inserting Erick ‘Cubo’ Torres into the starting XI for the first time – and it paid off.
Early in Saturday's 2-0 victory against Sporting Kansas City, Torres held off a defender long enough to stick out his leg and flick a pass to Giles Barnes, who promptly netted the game’s opening goal.
“He has been patient, waiting on his chance,” Coyle said, after the game. “We were delighted with his contribution and he worked hard and it’s a boost to Erick and it’s a boost for us and everybody at the club.”
During a Tuesday phone interview, Torres told MLSsoccer.com that he was ecstatic to finally play and contribute to a long-awaited Dynamo victory.
“I didn’t score a goal, but I kept the defense busy and did well holding up the ball." Torres said.
Could Saturday’s performance yield a second start? Coyle tempered his response in a phone interview:
“We’ll decide on that [game day], but that goes for pretty much everybody.”
Torres was recently selected by the Mexico Under-23 national team to participate in the Toulon Tournament in France from May 18-29. The federation requested to have Torres join them now, but the Dynamo countered, asking that he stay for this three-game stretch.
Torres will join the U-23s in France on Sunday. If Mexico advances out of its group, Torres could be gone until the end of the month.
It’s safe to say the Dynamo requesting to keep Torres could only mean more playing time for him and Coyle acknowledged that Torres could play Wednesday, Saturday, or both. (As the coach put it: "He's a part of what we're doing.")
But if Cubo starts, it won’t necessarily bring a different style of play to the pitch.
“No matter the player, we play the same way from that striker position that he plays,” Coyle said, noting that Torres has gained an understanding what’s being asked for in the role.
“He asks me to keep the centerbacks busy and fight for every header,” Torres said. “And when it comes time to attack, I need to get in the box because our wingers are gonna cross the ball – my job is to meet it.”