FC Dallas Technical Director Fernando Clavijo has stated that the primary objective this offseason is to "try to find that player that can score 15, 20 goals, that can compete for the golden boot at the end of the year." Is this superstar striker already plying his trade in Texas?
Time to make the case for the man they call "Cubo," Erick Torres.
Can Cubo score 15 goals in an MLS season?
Yes, with Chivas USA in 2014 Cubo scored 15 goals in 29 games. Clavijo might have a few South American strikers up his sleeve this offseason, but we can be sure that none have ever scored 15 goals in an MLS season.
But Houston won’t trade him to Dallas. We’re rivals!
Then how did Je-Vaughn Watson appear on FC Dallas’ roster? In February 2013, Watson was traded from Houston to Dallas for a second round pick. There is no reason why the teams can't agree on a mutually beneficial deal.
Dynamo Theory recently made an offseason wish list. Number one on the list is to "Get younger." Dallas can help the Houston Dynamo accomplish that goal. With an abundance of academy prospects that Houston doesn’t have in the pipeline, a young player or two could be sent south as part of the deal.
The Dynamo desperately need a revamped midfield. Rumor has it that Brad Davis is on his way to Sporting Kansas City. After the signing of Cristian Maidana, Coyle said, "We still want to continue to add to that playmaking area in the midfield." Dallas can provide a sizable amount of allocation money to Houston that would allow them to sign a speedy winger or two.
What about his horrible 2015 season?
2015 was a lost year for Cubo. In May, he was charged with sexual assault before eventually being cleared.
He started the season on loan with Chivas Guadalajara. He mostly collected dust on the bench, and was not even in the eighteen on five occasions. He played just five times as a substitute, scoring twice in one game and getting a red card in another.
In Houston, Cubo started three games and saw action in eight more, scoring zero goals and providing one assist. With Cubo in the lineup, Coyle deployed a 4-4-2, putting Giles Barnes on the wing with Cubo and Will Bruin up top. In Coyle’s preferred lineup without Cubo, Barnes was in a second striker role playing underneath Bruin.
Cubo does not fit Owen Coyle’s old-fashioned long-ball system. He does not have the physique to knock bodies with defenders in the box and fight for floating crosses. With Maidana’s arrival, Houston will likely use a 4-2-3-1, with Maidana in the hole under Bruin and Barnes back out on the wing. This still leaves Cubo as an expensive center benchwarmer.
One of the key concepts that Szymanski and Kuper laid out in "Soccernomics" is to buy unsettled players and make them feel at home. Oscar Pareja has created a family of players in Dallas that share his passion and loyalty. If you’ve never seen the KickTV video, "A Coach with 30 Sons," drop everything and watch it immediately. Papi is the man to get Cubo back on the right track and back in the Mexican national team picture.
Does Cubo fit Pareja and FC Dallas’ style?
Yes. He is a young Latin American with quick feet and excellent finishing prowess. Cubo has a knack for latching onto balls in the box, whether sent low to the near post or whipped to the back post. When he scored 15 goals in 2014 at Chivas USA, Cubo was deployed as a lone striker in a 4-2-3-1 with speedy wingers. Sound familiar?
Check out this goal where he darts into the box and beats the CB to the near post. You might recognize that CB from the 2015 MLS Best XI – it’s Matt Hedges! That is exactly the type of run that David Texeira was asked to make time and again for Dallas with mixed results.
In this next clip, imagine that the team in red is FC Dallas. Fabian Castillo beats his man to the endline and whips the cross into the six. Cubo will be there to finish.
Here we have a cross that Je-Vaughn Watson would make from the right sideline. Cubo makes the back post run this time and heads the ball confidently into the goal.
Is this not the kind of finish we wanted from a Mauro Diaz cross all year long?
Is Cubo too expensive?
The day after the news broke that Cubo was being shopped around by Houston, I saw Fernando at Rudy’s for the team meal. I asked him what Houston wanted for Cubo and he replied, "Too expensive." I should’ve clarified if he meant to acquire or to pay.
With no GM experience, I have a hard time gauging a fair trade offer, but it seems plausible that Houston could go for a young player, an undisclosed amount of allocation, and a draft pick or two.
According to MLSPU, Cubo’s compensation in 2015 was $425k. As a Young DP, he would count for $200k against the salary cap next year. For comparison, Texeira made $338k, Kei Kamara made $536k, and Fanendo Adi made $664k. If we are confident that Cubo is a 15-goal contributor on Dallas, $425k is not too much to pay.
Just last week, Clavijo appeared to have a change of heart when he said, "It's not about money. It's about the quality." Maybe our dream has finally come true and the Hunts are ready to open the purse strings!
What about his infamous Robot goal scoring celebration?
With Michel’s departure, someone needs to fill the role of terrible goal celebration at FC Dallas, and that man is Cubo Torres!