Which MLS teams should be in the Cubo Torres sweepstakes?


Barely three months after returning to Major League Soccer for a transfer fee of $7 million, Erick “Cubo” Torres is reportedly on the trading block as the Houston Dynamo look to… do something ahead of the 2016 season.

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According to a Tuesday report from Sports Illustrated‘s Grant Wahl, Torres is already being shopped by the Dynamo after failing to score a single goal in his 11 games (three starts) with the club after arriving in late July.

From SI‘s report:

The Houston Dynamo paid a club-record $7 million-plus transfer fee for Mexican forward Erick “Cubo” Torres earlier this year, but I’ve learned that Houston is already shopping Torres for a trade, and multiple MLS teams are interested.

If the Dynamo are looking to dump the 22-year-old Mexican international (one cap in 2015), it comes as no surprise that a number of teams would have already expressed interest in acquiring the forward who scored 15 goals for a very bad Chivas USA team as a 20-year-old. It’s worth forecasting, then, which teams could be interested in acquiring Torres this winter.

The “fits a need” crowd

Chicago Fire, D.C. United, Philadelphia Union, Colorado Rapids and Real Salt Lake are all very “duh” options here.

David Accam led the Fire in goals scored this year (10), but he’s very much a winger — a really good one, at — who would have had more assists and fewer goals in 2015 had the Fire had an MLS-caliber starting center forward all year long. They acquired Gilberto, who scored five in 10 games played, from TFC in the summer, but how long is he likely to remain in MLS? Not to mention, Torres, in his 2014 form, would be a slight upgrade over Gilberto at one-third of the price ($350,000 vs. $1.15 million).

[ MORE: Jason Kreis fired after just one season at New York City FC ]

The team that makes the most sense, though, is United. Trading for Alvaro Saborio this summer was an odd move, given his age (33) and salary ($400,000). To put it politely, it’s not really worked (4 goals in 12 games played). Fabian Espindola’s no spring chicken either, though as he has progressed in years, so has his game as more of a playmaker than leader of the line himself. A 4-4-1-1 with Espindola playing off the shoulder of Torres, just ahead of Perry Kitchen and a yet-to-be-acquired center mid sounds awfully good.

The Union have C.J. Sapong right now, and he scored nine times in 27 games this season, but that seems to be just about his ceiling five years into his pro career. Torres is an improvement over Sapong, but could they piece together enough assets without having to give up who would be Torres’s greatest chance creator, Cristian Maidana? There’s not a ton of value elsewhere in that team, to be completely honest.

[ MORE: Gerrard won’t be returning to Liverpool ]

The Rapids, under Pablo Mastroeni, don’t particularly like playing young, attack-minded players, so they’re probably out, though he’d be a huge coup and potential savior of that floundering franchise. RSL, meanwhile, love playing their kids and have not very much to like up top between Sebastian Jaime, Devon Sandoval and Olmes Garcia. Yuck.

The “is he be better than what we’ve got now?” crowd

Sporting Kansas City and San Jose Earthquakes find themselves in a place where acquiring Torres could be the catalyst for an offseason of change.

Dom Dwyer is the man for Sporting KC, but his production was nearly halved in 2015 (down to 12 goals, from 22) after receiving a big raise last winter ($400,000). There’s also the matter of constant interest from clubs in his native England and his desire to live and play in the same city as his wife, Sydney Leroux, which could eventually spell the end of his time in Kansas City. Much like Dwyer, though, Torres is very much reliant upon quality service to the striker, which would in part explain Dwyer’s dip in production this season.

[ MORE: Gerrard “wasn’t aware of” certain challenges he’d face in MLS ]

The Earthquakes also have a seriously entrenched starter on their roster, Chris Wondolowski, but one would think we’re nearing the end of Wondo’s incredible run of 14 goals of more in five of the last six seasons (he turns 33 in January). Innocent Emeghara is scheduled to be back for the start of 2016 following meniscus surgery this year, but to what effect?

Interestingly enough, the depth of two Canadian teams — Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps — would each be hugely improved with the addition of Torres, but the lack of off-the-field incentive in Canada would probably cause each to balk at Houston’s asking price.

Report: No money in January for Mourinho

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Jose Mourinho will have to deal with the squad he has for the rest of the season, according to a report the Guardian.

The report states that Tottenham isn’t making any money available for signings in January, meaning that Mourinho won’t have the chance to add to his Spurs squad. Usually, when a new coach comes in, they’re given at least a transfer window to bring in one or two players, especially mid-season, to stabilize the squad.

[READ: Mourinho speaks for the first time as Spurs manager]

It’s certainly an unusual move from Tottenham. It leaves Mourinho in a bad spot in terms of the five first-team players who will be out of contract in June. If any of them, including Jan Vertonghen and Christian Eriksen, leave on transfer, perhaps Tottenham can use those funds towards new signings. However, it’s more likely at this point that all five will finish the season at White Hart Lane and leave, setting up a massive summer for Mourinho.

At the same time, Tottenham has shown financial austerity for the past few seasons, as it struggles to pay back the loans it took to renovate its stadium. Pochettino didn’t make a single signing for the entirety of the 2018-2019 season and while the club broke its transfer record to sign Tanguay Ndombele, there wasn’t investment throughout the squad.

Considering Tottenham’s financial behavior, it does question why Mourinho took the job in the first place. But with his reported eight-figure salary, and the chance to work with Harry Kane, Mourinho may have decided it’s worth it, even if he can’t sign his players and mold the squad in the way he wants.

Looking Ahead: Mourinho’s first 10 games

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Tottenham’s stunning week continued on Wednesday with the appointment of Jose Mourinho as manager.

Taking in his first day of training, Mourinho can now get to grips with not only his squad, but what’s ahead for Spurs. Here’s a look at what Mourinho will be up against in the next two months.

[READ: 5 things Mourinho must do at Tottenham]

Game 1: Tottenham at West Ham, Saturday, Premier League

Mourinho’s first game in charge is a London derby, which is a pretty tough way to start life at the club. Coming on the road, you can expect a packed house, tons of media attention, and possibly a re-energized squad. That’s what Mourinho will be hoping for, anyways.

Sebastian Haller has struggled recently, and with just four goals in 11 Premier League games, he could be looking at this matchup as a way to get back on the scoresheet. It will be up to Mourinho to re-organize a want-away defense.

Game 2: Tottenham v. Olympiakos, Nov. 26, UEFA Champions League

Game 3: Tottenham v. Bournemouth, Nov. 30, Premier League

Game 4: Tottenham at Manchester United, Dec. 4, Premier League

Mourinho only has to wait three weeks before his first trip back to Old Trafford. Even though it’s coming soon, it’s not a guarantee that it will be Mourinho v. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who is under a lot of pressure himself. Things haven’t improved at Man United much since Mourinho was sacked, and a win for him on the road would be the kind of grudge match he lives for.

Game 5: Tottenham v. Burnley, Dec. 7, Premier League

Game 6: Tottenham at Bayern Munich, Dec. 11, Champions League

If the Champions League stopped today, passed Go and went directly to the knockout rounds, Tottenham would be in. Despite all the Premier League troubles, Spurs have done well enough to stay ahead of Red Star Belgrade and Olympiakos in the standings. Should Tottenham beat Olympiakos in November, and Red Star loses to Bayern Munich, it will be set. However, if Tottenham hasn’t secured a place in the knockout round by then, it may need a result against Bayern at home. That will be one of Mourinho’s biggest tasks moving forward.

Game 7: Tottenham at Wolves, Dec. 15, Premier League

Game 8: Tottenham v. Chelsea, Dec. 22, Premier League

Tottenham opens the busy holiday period against Mourinho’s other Premier League former club, and the place where he made his name in England. At this point, Mourinho will have been with Tottenham for an entire month and if things are going well, Tottenham could challenge Chelsea in this match. If Tottenham remain at its current level, Chelsea could certainly win a match like this on the road at the new White Hart Lane. Another side plot will be Mourinho facing his former star midfielder, Frank Lampard.

Game 9: Tottenham v. Brighton and Hove Albion, Dec. 26, Premier League

Game 10: Tottenham at Norwich City, Dec. 28, Premier League

Mourinho will have to navigate some tough matches, including big six derbies against Chelsea and Man United, plus a trip to Wolverhampton Wanderers. However, it certainly could have been worse for Tottenham. Spurs has five home games, along with matches against Burnley, Bournemouth, Norwich City and Brighton and Hove Albion. Despite 10 games in the rest of 2019, and a busy holiday period, Mourinho has a shot to turn Spurs’ season around and put them in contention for fourth place by May.

UEFA investigates player’s claim of racial abuse in Romania

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NYON, Switzerland (AP) UEFA has called for further investigations into allegations by a Sweden player he was racially abused by Romania fans at a European Championship qualifying game.

After Alexander Isak reported his claim to the match referee last Friday, play in Sweden’s 2-0 win was briefly stopped to broadcast a warning to fans in Bucharest. The stadium will host four Euro 2020 games in June.

[READ: How the USMNT found and kept Sergino Dest]

UEFA says it opened a disciplinary investigation, and also charged Romania’s soccer federation for separate incidents of an alleged “illicit banner” and “illicit chants.” Those charges will be judged on Dec. 12.

Romania faces more severe UEFA action because it was already under one year’s probation for previous incidents of offensive fan behavior.

Only accompanied children were allowed to attend Romania’s home qualifier against Norway last month.

The next UEFA punishment could affect Romania’s next game in the Euro 2020 playoffs round in March.

Report: Austin FC hire Reyna as sporting director

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Months after locking in Josh Wolff as head coach, Austin FC is reportedly on the verge of naming one of MLS’ best sporting directors to the same role.

The Athletic reported on Wednesday that Anthony Precourt’s Austin FC has hired Claudio Reyna from New York City FC to be the expansion club’s new sporting director. It’s the second expansion club that Reyna is working for since he joined NYCFC in 2013 as its first director of soccer operations.

[READ: MLS takes big step with All-Star game update]

If true, it’s a shrewd move by Precourt to bring in a man who knows MLS like the back of his thumb, and to pair him with a former teammate from the U.S. Men’s National Team. Wolff’s spent almost his entire career in professional soccer in MLS too, so the club now has two influential individuals who are knowledgable about the league and it’s various roster mechanisms.

Austin FC doesn’t enter MLS until 2021, so locking in Reyna now gives him more than a year of runway towards building an MLS-ready roster. Precourt has surely seen the best-case scenario – Seattle, Los Angeles FC, Atlanta United – where a team loaded with top-heavy talent and good role players can make a deep playoff run in its expansion season. But he’s likely also seen the worst-case scenarios – look at Minnesota United in the past and FC Cincinnati this year.

Bringing in Reyna certainly makes it more likely that Austin FC’s future will lie in the former category.