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Why the Signing of Erick Torres Is a Game-Changer for Houston and MLS

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistDecember 27, 2014

Jul 5, 2014; Carson, CA, USA;  Chivas USA forward Erick Torres (9) raises his arms to the crowd celebrating his goal that won the game in extra time against the Montreal Impact at StubHub Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

When the Houston Dynamo unveiled Erick "Cubo" Torres as their newest signing Tuesday night, team president Chris Canetti had the perfect words to describe the move. 

"This is a monumental signing," Canetti said in the team's press release announcing the deal for the electric 21-year-old Mexican forward. 

Kyle McCarthy @kylejmccarthy

"This is a monumental signing," Dynamo president Chris Canetti said in release to announce Erick Torres' signing. He's right. #MLS

Torres will join up with the Dynamo after a six-month loan spell at his former club, Chivas de Guadalajara. 

When he enters the fray in Houston, Torres will become the marquee name in the lineup, who Houston fans have been waiting to see for a long time. 

#VoteDynamo @HoustonDynamo

JUST IN: The Dynamo have signed Erick "Cubo" Torres as a Designated Player --> http://t.co/V1BIG63FaN #HolaCubo http://t.co/triFXGlRF3

The Dynamo have always had productive players in attack like Brian Ching, Will Bruin and Brad Davis. But the popularity of those three players combined will not match the recognition Torres receives when he begins his time in the Lone Star State. 

For years, Houston has been searching for a player to attract the massive Hispanic audience in the city. By obtaining Torres from Chivas, the Dynamo have done just that. 

Not only did the Dynamo need Torres to create a more passionate fanbase than they already had, the acquisition will help new manager Owen Coyle adjust to the league faster.

Coyle, who comes to MLS after managerial stints at Burnley, Bolton Wanderers and Wigan Athletic, has already compared the young Mexican to Daniel Sturridge in a conference call, per MLSSoccer.com

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SCOTT HEPPELL/Associated Press

It has been made clear by that statement Coyle has his guy up top in an already dangerous attack, where Bruin and Englishman Giles Barnes were the top scorers during the 2014 season. 

When Torres becomes a member of the squad during the second half of the 2015 season, the Dynamo will have three players on their roster who are coming off 10-plus goal seasons. 

Now that Torres is a part of the Houston squad, it will be able to challenge for a playoff position in the Western Conference. With the addition of New York City FC and Orlando City in 2015, Houston and Sporting Kansas City were shifted to the West. 

When the conference realignment was first announced, some thought Houston would be doomed in 2015 because of the stifling defenses put out by the likes of LA, Real Salt Lake and Seattle. 

In Torres, Barnes and Bruin, the Dynamo possess a three-pronged attack, which can go head-to-head with any defense in the league. 

Giles Barnes scored 11 goals in 2014 for Houston.
Giles Barnes scored 11 goals in 2014 for Houston.USA TODAY Sports

On top of the tremendous forward trio, Davis and Boniek Garcia will still be manning the flanks. Davis and his feared left foot produced 11 assists in 2014, while the Honduran Garcia brings balance to the midfield on the right flank. 

Add in a World Cup veteran in Ricardo Clark in the middle of the park, and a few solid full-backs in the starting 11, and you have a strong team ready to take the field to kick off the Coyle era. 

Not only does the signing of Torres mark the start of a new era in Houston, it also marks a new beginning for MLS. 

In recent years, the league has seen stars like Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones come stateside after long spans of success in Europe. But the one problem that was never addressed was the locking up of younger domestic players. 

A prime example of this is Tottenham's signing of DeAndre Yedlin, who was a star in Seattle over the last two seasons at right-back. Failing to keep Yedlin at home was a blow to the league, but it recovered well with the signature of Torres. 

Yedlin will join Tottenham in January.
Yedlin will join Tottenham in January.USA TODAY Sports

The final goal of the league is to be a primary destination for stars from all around the world. But before they can attract players in their prime from the European leagues, the 20 MLS clubs must sign young North American stars. 

MLS has already begun to make strides in South America, but key players like Kaka, Federico Higuain and Pedro Morales were established before making a move to the United States and Canada. 

The league has done a solid job attracting young American players through academies and the MLS SuperDraft, but there are still plenty of American-born players who opt to go overseas to begin their careers. 

One factor that will play a big role in keeping the younger Americans at home is the draw of the United States men's national team. If players like Wil Trapp, Matt Hedges, Luis Gil and others can impress in the next year for the Yanks, it will do wonders for the image of MLS.

Grant Wahl @GrantWahl

For MLS, you can't start landing top European/South American players in their prime until you do it with top US/MEX players first.

MLS has set a major precedent for itself over the next few years by committing to Torres, who is one of the brightest rising stars in CONCACAF. If the league is willing to dish out more money to other young North American players, it could become one of the premier leagues in the world over the next decade. 

The league certainly has a long way to go before it reaches that point, but sometime in the future, we could look back on the Torres signing and agree with Canetti that it indeed was monumental. 

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90

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