For Dynamo fans, president Chris Canetti might as well be Santa Claus. Speaking to a reporter pool on the morning of Christmas Eve, Canetti detailed a hefty roster of individuals that were responsible for bringing Erick "Cubo" Torres to Houston and it reads like the "Nice" list to the Orange faithful.
The move, worth a reported $7m transfer fee, was the result of handiwork from new technical director Matt Jordan, the Dynamo ownership group, MLS officials, and Cubo's representatives that secured the player to a 5-year deal in MLS following a brief six-month loan in Liga MX with Chivas de Guadalajara.
"This is a monumental signing... and represents a new era that's underway here," expressed Canetti. "Hopefully, this signing makes a statement to our fanbase and to our market that we're serious about winning and about establishing a diverse roster of players."
Cubo, who is in Mexico preparing for the 2015 Liga MX Clausura, was available on a conference call along with Canetti, Jordan, and head coach Owen Coyle. While Canetti labeled him as "the most significant [transaction] in club history", Torres recognizes his arrival alone won't be enough to start. "I'm going to try to learn every day... and will do my best to earn a spot on the roster," Cubo said through a translator.
But even the Dynamo staff can't help but be excited. After speaking with the player, Owen Coyle was elated - even drawing comparisons to Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge (the England International who was loaned to Coyle's Bolton in 2010). Coyle sees Cubo as possessing many similarities with Sturridge, "[Torres] has two very good feet, great awareness, knows where the goals are... a very humble young man but wants to get better." Coyle continued to shower Cubo with praise, stating "he has every attribute required to be a top international striker at the very highest part of the game." Coyle hopes to encourage and enhance Cubo's abilities while imparting some of his own former-striker wisdom on the young player.
Jordan shares Coyle's excitement and thinks Cubo will be a "constant threat in the offensive third" -- something that has been missing from the Dynamo's attack in recent years. "What stands out to us is that he scores goals in all different ways," said Jordan, "His variety stands out and shares traits with other top goal scorers."
Though he probably won't make an appearance until June, Coyle feels like Torres will have no problem fitting into the squad at midseason and thinks his flexibility in formations (whether going with one, two, or three strikers) will be of great use in what is becoming a busy forward corps, "He can play anywhere and is very flexible; I just think he can play in any system that we decide to go forward with."
In the meantime, Jordan continues to look at ways to better the team after accomplishing what he described to Canetti as "the perfect scenario" upon being hired by the Dynamo. "We feel we have very good pieces in place and a strong foundation that will complement Cubo when he comes in," said Jordan, "[we] continue to look at every possibility and improve the team with scouting and planning."
Before deciding on the move, however, Torres needed to weigh several factors including his burgeoning role with Mexico's national team. According to Torres, Mexico head coach Miguel Herrera has had very open communication about a permanent move back to MLS and has stated that the league is not only great for Torres but would not impact future call-ups as long as he keeps scoring goals. That helped to seal the deal for Torres, especially with the Gold Cup roster selection looming in the summer.
Houston, itself, was also a draw for Cubo. "I know it's a beautiful city with a large Latino community and will definitely make me feel at home," said Torres, "and it's also two hours from my city (Guadalajara) with a direct flight so I'm very close to my city and my country."
Canetti hopes to have Cubo visit Houston just after the New Year for a more formal unveiling to the public. The Clausura kicks off January 9th and will run through May 31st, 2015. Chivas de Guadalajara is risking relegation in the next tournament amid what has been multiple years of disappointment.