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Erick ‘Cubo’ Torres returns to SoCal with Orange County Soccer Club

Erick "Cubo" Torres controls the ball during a match between Atlanta and Columbus in August.
Erick “Cubo” Torres controls the ball during a match between Atlanta and Columbus in August. The former Chivas USA standout has signed with the Orange County Soccer Club.
(Jay LaPrete / Associated Press)

Erick “Cubo” Torres had quite a soccer debut in Southern California, scoring the winning goal in his first game with Chivas USA. That was more than eight years ago, and Chivas USA is gone now. But Torres is back, with the Orange County Soccer Club announcing Thursday it has signed the former Mexican national team forward for 2022.

Terms of the deal were not announced, but the acquisition is among the biggest in history for the USL Championship team, the reigning champion of the second-tier league. Torres appeared in more than 260 club games in all competition in both Mexico and the U.S. over the last 12 seasons, with his 38 goals in MLS ranking second among Mexican-born players to LAFC’s Carlos Vela.

And although some things are different — Torres is married now, for one — he returns to Southern California the same way he came in, with something to prove.

Soccer referee Natalie Simon is accustomed to being different and carrying a heavy burden as the highest-ranked Black American woman in her field.

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“There are some similarities, right?,” Torres told Times en Español reporter Jad El Reda. “When I arrived, a lot people doubted me. A lot of people told me, ‘Ah, he’s leaving Mexico for MLS.’ Now many Mexican players with great names come to play in MLS.

“Today I come to play in the USL, where perhaps many people may also doubt me or there may be negative criticisms. I am aware of that. But I know what I’m capable of. I know what I can face.”

Torres scored just one goal in 33 games over two years with Atlanta United, which declined his contract option last month. But it wasn’t so long ago he was scoring a team-high 14 goals to lead the Houston Dynamo to the 2017 MLS Western Conference final. He left after that season and Houston hasn’t been back to the playoffs — nor had a winning season — since.

Torres, who turns 29 next week, says he believes he still has a lot of good soccer ahead of him, which is why he signed with a second-division team instead of waiting for an offer from MLS.

Seattle's Djimi Traore kicks the ball away from Chivas USA's Erick "Cubo" Torres during a game in September 2013.
(Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)

“Obviously the professional player always wants to be playing in the most competitive leagues,” he said. “[But] I don’t want to be sitting on the bench waiting for my chance to show what I’m made of. When the opportunity came from Orange County to get to play, I had no doubt because of the trust they had in me.

“The objectives are very clear. It is to return to the MLS or the first division in Mexico. But always supporting the team, hand in hand with the objectives of the club, with the objectives of my teammates.”

“I am at a great age,” he added. “And highly motivated.”

OCSC has been busy since winning the USL Championship title in November. In the last week it added not only Torres, but former San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Kevin Partida, 26, and Honduran national team defender Danilo Acosta, 24, who spent the past two seasons with the Galaxy.

“We are beyond excited to bring Cubo, a first-class professional and prolific goal-scorer, to Orange County,” team president Oliver Wyss said in a statement. “Cubo is a true winner on and off the field.”

Terms of Torres’ contract were not announced but the deal is believed to be for one season with an option for 2023. Torres made $81,375 last season with Atlanta.


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