Erick Torres

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Erick “Cubo” Torres leaves Houston for Pumas

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Welcome to your new home, Erick. Hope it goes a little better than your last stop.

Once among the most desired recruits on the Major League Soccer circuit after scoring 15 goals for lowly Chivas USA in 2014, Erick Torres is leaving the league to join Pumas UNAM.

He’ll head home to Mexico to rebuild an international career which stalled at four caps until this summer’s Gold Cup moved Torres to seven El Tri appearances.

[ PL PLAYBACK: On trade deals, and more]

The move is somewhat of a surprise given the Houston Chronicle headline Tuesday: “Erick Torres says he intends to fulfill his Dynamo contract.”

Torres scored 14 goals in 27 matches for Houston last season, raising his value after not scoring an MLS goal in 2015 and 2016 combined (22 matches). Five of his goals, however, were penalty kicks.

MLS Conference Finals: Toronto, Seattle on collision course?

Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images
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The ties are leaning away from the underdog stories as the MLS Cup Conference Finals reach their second legs.

[ MORE: Premier League Weds. preview ]

Reigning champs Seattle are 90 minutes away from a return to the final after scoring a pair of away goals in Texas, while Toronto needs a win at home to bring out the fine china for a rematch of the 2016 title game at BMO Field.

Toronto FC vs. Columbus Crew — 7:30 p.m. ET Wednesday
Scoreless after one leg

The good news for Columbus Crew is that a scoring draw is good enough to take them through to a second MLS Cup Final in three seasons under Gregg Berhalter, taking the embarrassment of owner Anthony Precourt’s public desire to relocate an MLS original club to Austin, Texas.

The bad news? That scoring draw has to come at noisy BMO Field against the team with the best record in MLS history, a Toronto FC bunch which will be welcoming Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco back to the fold after suspension.

Columbus has veteran savvy and some wild cards like Pedro Santos, but it’s going to take a lot of defending to handle TFC’s field-switching work and busy full backs (let alone Altidore and Giovinco).

Seattle Sounders vs. Houston Dynamo — 10:30 p.m. ET Thursday
Seattle leads 2-0

Clint Dempsey is among the most important and accomplished players in American history, and his work since returning to Major League Soccer certainly ticks a lot of boxes: influential, clutch, prolific.

He’s helped the Sounders to an almost insurmountable advantage. At home for the second leg, the Sounders can make Houston’s task near impossible just by scoring a goal.

That said, Wilmer Cabrera is a heck of a coach and has assets that can attack and fire at will. While it may be improbable for Alberth Elis and Erick Torres to spring a massive comeback in Washington, it’s not quite impossible. That’s about as much as we can give the orange-clad men from Texas.

Jamaica upsets Mexico to reach Gold Cup final, face USMNT

AP Photo/Jae Hong
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For the second straight tournament, Jamaica are headed to the final of the Gold Cup after knocking off Mexico, the side which beat them in the 2015 final, in the 2017 semifinal on Sunday.

New York Red Bulls defender Kemar Lawrence scored the game’s only goal in the 88th minute, making the most of Andre Blake’s man-of-the-match goalkeeping performance which spanned the entirety of 90 minutes.

[ RECAP: Super-sub Dempsey propels USMNT past Costa Rica ]

Blake put forth a stellar display of goalkeeping in the game’s opening 45 minutes, facing three shots on target and denying El Tri’s attackers on each and every occasion.

The pick(s) of the litter came in the 12th minute, when the Philadelphia Union ‘keeper pulled off a stunning double-save to deny Jesus Dueñas and Erick Torres. Dueñas fired first, aided by a wicked deflection, but Blake pulled off the reflexive kick-save, followed by Torres’ powerful strike through traffic seconds later.

15 minutes later, Torres earned himself a yellow card for what was undoubtedly, unquestionably a red-card, lunging “challenge” against Damion Lowe.

[ USA 2-0 CRC: Player ratings | Three things we learned ]

The second half consisted of much the same things as the first, as Blake continued his clinic in the 65th minute. Jesus Gallardo fired a free kick through the Raggae Boyz’ wall, a knuckling shot which Blake didn’t see until very late but managed the put two fists behind the ball and punch it anyway anyway.

Blake’s counterpart, Jesus Corona, joined the fun in the 78th minute. Lowe rose highest to get to Owayne Gordon’s free kick, heading it inside Corona’s right-hand post, but the Cruz Azul ‘keeper was quick to scramble across his goal and palm the ball away at full-stretch.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s Gold Cup coverage ]

Two minutes before full-time, Lawrence produced the game’s only piece of purge magic, a curling peach of a free kick from 24 yards out. Corona went one way, Lawrence went the other and Jamaica are headed to their second straight Gold Cup final.

Jamaica will take on the U.S. national team in Wednesday’s final, at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.

MLS (late-night) roundup: Cubo bags a hat trick; MNUFC win a game!

Photo credit: Houston Dynamo / Twitter: @HoustonDynamo
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With four MLS Saturday afternoons/evenings officially in the books, only 30 more to go…

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Houston Dynamo 4-1 New York Red Bulls

It’s probably time we start calling Erick Torres by his nickname, “Cubo” (cube, as a reference to the size and shape of his head), once again. After a disastrous first season in Houston, and a subsequent loan to Cruz Azul, who decided against making the signing permanent, Torres is starting for new-old head coach Wilmer Cabrera, and the goals are flowing.

The 24-year-old entered Saturday’s game against New York with a goal in three straight games. 41 minutes into the game, the streak was extended to four. 15 minutes later, he had a brace. 35 minutes after that, Torres completed his first MLS hat trick with a sensational free kick.

As far as early-season MVP candidates go, Torres threw his name into the hat — alongside the likes of David Villa and Justin Meram — with his fourth, fifth and sixth goals of the season, after four games.

[ MORE: Saturday’s (afternoon) roundup: Villa, Schweinsteiger, Meram stellar ]


Minnesota United 4-2 Real Salt Lake

After four minutes, everything was beginning to feel all too familiar to Minnesota players, coaches and fans alike — less than 240 seconds on the clock, they were a goal down after Luke Mulholland slotted home from the top of the box. This time, though, the deficit was short-lived, as Kevin Molino headed home from close range in the 16th minute.

Then, the strangest pair of things occurred in unison: the Loons stopped leaking goals, and starting bossing the game themselves. Christian Ramirez bagged his third and fourth goals of the season, 10 minutes apart early in the second half, and the score was 3-1. Johan Venegas added a fourth, just in case, and Adrian Heath had staved off unemployment for an additional week in charge.

[ MORE: Sporting KC rookie got GOT by Vermes, teammates’ April Fools’ prank ]


Vancouver Whitecaps 4-2 LA Galaxy

A game that could have easily featured 10 goals, Vancouver’s 4-2 victory over LA had just six instead. Still, the track meet at BC Place trumped anything and everything on offer elsewhere in MLS.

Cristian Techera opened the scoring in the 19th minute, but Romain Alessandrini equalized with his first MLS goal seven minutes later. The Frenchman put LA 2-1 ahead after four more minutes.

Then, even quicker than Alessandrini’s brace had put LA in front, Fredy Montero (his first goal since returning to MLS) and Matias Laba turned a one-goal deficit into a one-goal lead, in the 66th and 67th minutes. Laba notched a brace of his own with an exclamation-point header in the 87th minute.

[ MORE: San Diego’s April Fools’ prank — Footy McFooty Face ]


D.C. United 2-1 Philadelphia Union

D.C. achieved a pair of firsts on Saturday: they scored a goal, and they won a game. Jose Guillermo Ortiz took care of the first first, and Luciano Acosta (from the penalty spot) secured the second first. C.J. Sapong pulled one back for Philly with 20 minutes to play, and so nearly made it 2-2, if not for the heroics of Bill Hamid.

Elsewhere in MLSAFTERNOON ROUNDUP

New York City FC 2-1 San Jose Earthquakes
Chicago Fire 2-2 Montreal Impact
Columbus Crew SC 2-0 Orlando City SC

MLS (late-night) roundup: HOU hammer CLB; MTL blow late lead to SEA

Photo credit: Houston Dynamo / Twitter: @HoustonDynamo
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With two MLS Saturday afternoons/evenings officially in the books, only 32 more to go…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Houston Dynamo 3-1 Columbus Crew SC

If you don’t know about the #BabyDynamo, it’s time you familiarize yourself with Wilmer Cabrera’s young (average age of attacking players used on Saturday: 23.4), attack-minded (five goals scored through two games) side. Erick (no longer “Cubo”) Torres has two goals in two games after his stunner completed Saturday’s rout of Columbus; Romell Quioto is the early leader in the clubhouse for Newcomer of the Year after bagging his second in two games; and Alberth Elis looked far more comfortable in his second MLS game, tallying his first goal since arriving in the offseason.

Ola Kamara notched Columbus’s consolation goal, his first of 2017, late into second-half stoppage time.

Montreal Impact 2-2 Seattle Sounders

Seattle’s MLS Cup hangover continued, for 60 minutes at least, as Montreal raced out to a comfortable 2-0 lead on the hard, bouncy artificial playing surface at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal. Ignacio Piatti’s inch-perfect through ball set up Matteo Mancosu for the game’s opening goal in the 17th minute, but it Piatti’s individual effort, racing 50 yards with the ball at his feet before firing past Stefan Frei from 20 yards out, six minutes after halftime which stole the spotlight until very late on.

Jordan Morris went down to win a penalty for Seattle with fewer than 10 minutes remaining in the second half, and Nicolas Lodeiro converted to make it 2-1. Montreal held their slender margin deep into stoppage time, but Will Bruin, having entered the game just eight minutes earlier, turned home a loose ball from five yards out to snatch the defending champions’ first point of 2017.

[ MORE: MLS (afternoon) roundup — Chicago’s on Fire; Giovinco injured ]

San Jose Earthquakes 3-2 Vancouver Whitecaps

From 2-0 down after 17 minutes, to a man up after 23 minutes, to 3-2 up after 79 minutes — just like that — San Jose are level with Houston for the Western Conference’s top spot.

Erik Hurtado and Nicolas Mezquida put the visitors ahead early on, but David Ousted got himself sent off for taking down Chris Wondolowski in the open field, and the comeback was on. Wondolowski pulled one back just after the half-hour mark, before notching the assist on Nick Lima’s first MLS goal nine minutes after halftime, and Anibal Godoy made it 3-2 with 11 minutes of regular time remaining.

Sporting Kansas City 0-0 FC Dallas

With FCD opting to field a largely second-team squad (CONCACAF Champions League semifinal first leg on Wednesday), Sporting KC enjoyed over 68 percent of the game’s possession, as the defending Supporters’ Shield winners — average age of 14 players used on Saturday: 24.1 — proved too well-drilled and disciplined to allow a clear-cut scoring chance all night. Oscar Pareja leads the “play your kids” movement, and with very good reason: they’re an extremely talented, mature bunch.

Elsewhere in MLSAFTERNOON ROUNDUP

Chicago Fire 2-0 Real Salt Lake
New York Red Bulls 1-0 Colorado Rapids
Philadelphia Union 2-2 Toronto FC