Prior to Chivas USA's loss to the Colorado Rapids last week, Erick "Cubo" Torres had an astonishing run of a six game goal scoring streak, pulling his season tally up to a staggering 14 for the year. The Dallas faithful are pretty familiar with Cubo up to this point as the Hoops have already faced Chivas three times this season, so what more can we learn about this magnificent goal scorer? Let's take a look.
20 games, 20 starts. 14 goals in 1734 minutes. That's a very, very respectable 0.73 goals per 90 minutes. There are only five MLS players (min. of 8 goals scored) with a higher goals per 90 than Cubo at the moment, (Bradley Wright-Phillips, Dom Dwyer, Jermaine Defoe, Clint Dempsey and Urruti) putting the Chivas striker in the elite club when it comes to goal scoring.
As of 7/21, Torres' xGoals according to American Soccer Analysis has him third in the league with 10.12. As you can see here, only Bradley Wright-Phillips and Dom Dwyer are head of him again in that category.
I'm not showing it here, but when you sort the table by G - xG (that's actual goals scored minus expected goals), Torres ranks 5th in the league. In other words, he is either extremely lucky or extremely good. I'm more inclined to think the latter as you cannot be that lucky to go on a six game goal scoring streak in this league, but there was a time that even their own supporters didn't think much of him.
I'm only grabbing a small sample size because of time, but in looking at Chivas USA's last three matches, Cubo Torres has taken 9 shots, which is a team lead, as illustrated below:
7/12 v VAN
7/20 v DC
7/25 v COL
Six of the nine have come from inside the penalty box, including one from the penalty marker. And not surprisingly, all but two of the shots have been assisted. So outside of that one penalty shot, Cubo only managed to create a shot on his own, meaning Torres is reliant on service. This is not a bad thing, especially when you're that good at other things like score goals. But it does simplify, at least in theory, how to contain him.
What To Do
1) Know where he is at all times and follow him. This sounds ridiculously simple, but a large reason why Torres has been able to score so many goals is simply because of his movement off the ball. When you look at his heat maps, he really doesn't get on the ball that much.
Torres does his damage when he slips his defender and catches him ball watching for just one second. At this level that's enough of a window for a good striker to take advantage of, and it showed in that goal he scored against Dallas back on 3/22. Thankfully Dallas has done a good job of marking him this season. In 3 matches (259 minutes), Dallas has limited him to just 4 shots with only one on goal, and even limiting him to 0 shots in their last meeting.
A large reason for the limiting number of shots from Torres against FCD is also the second point:
2) High pressure. This has worked remarkably well when Dallas was up for it. Oscar Pareja has instructed his team to press high against the Goats when they don't have possession, which has limited the time for them to deliver a good pass or cross towards Cubo. It also makes them play the ball a second faster, which is coincidentally the second Torres needs to slip his defender. If Dallas can maintain the high press for most of the game, it will also limit the number of passes headed Torres' way, and thus really reduce the chances of Torres scoring against the Hoops.