2018 Key Transfers: Houston Dynamo

With the 2018 MLS season drawing ever closer, we will be running through the main ins and outs for all 23 teams over the course of the winter transfer window. There have been a number of key signings and significant trades which should ensure the new season is as exciting as ever before. Today we take a look at Houston Dynamo’s key signings and departures and what they could mean for them in the 2018 MLS season…

Houston Dynamo bounced back in a big way last season. They finished bottom of the West in 2016 but responded with a major reshuffle and ended the 2017 campaign in fourth spot, making the playoffs for the first time in four years. They went all the way to the Conference Semifinal, where they were brushed aside by Seattle. But it was a positive season and the aim will now be to build on that. They’ve retained the services of key players such as Alberth Elis and Juan Cabezas on permanent deals. But they haven’t stopped there and have ensured changes have been made to keep them competitive in 2018…

Key Signings

Arturo Alvarez: Alvarez joins Houston from Chicago Fire, where he scored three goals and added two assists in 25 games last season. At 32, he brings key experience to the dressing room and should provide valuable depth in the final third. He will be entering the 13th MLS season of his career and should be a good addition for Wilmer Cabrera’s men.

Chris Seitz: One of the key positions for recruitment this offseason was the goalkeeping spot. And Houston wasted no time in dealing with it as they brought in the experienced Chris Seitz via free agency, following his release from FC Dallas. He is an MLS veteran, with 11 seasons behind him, but at 30 he is still young in goalkeeping terms. He enjoyed his best season in 2016, playing 28 games for Dallas as they won the Supporters’ Shield. But he had to play second fiddle to Jesse Gonzalez in 2017 and is now ready for a new challenge in Houston.

Darwin Ceren: The signing of Darwin Ceren should really solidify the Dynamo’s midfield. He joins the club from San Jose Earthquakes, who picked up around $175,000 in allocation money for his services. Ceren has played 75 regular season matches over the past three seasons, scoring two goals with six assists. He knows the league well enough now and should shore up the Dynamo’s midfield with his tenacious approach.

Alejandro Fuenmayor: The 21-year-old defender joins from Venezuelan top flight side Carabobo FC, where he made his debut at age 17 in 2013. Despite his young age, Fuenmayor is experienced and should shore up a Dynamo defence that had the sixth-best defence in 2017. He has already played over 70 professional matches in his homeland and helped Carabobo to boast the Venezuelan league’s best defence last year.

Notable Departures

Jalil Anibaba: Anibaba has left the Dynamo after two seasons and has since joined up with the New England Revolution. He is an MLS veteran and played 38 games for Houston over the past two seasons. However, only eight of those appearances came last term, so it’s clear that he was no longer needed. His departure does remove some key experience from the team’s backline though.

Ricardo Clark: Another experienced Dynamo player to depart is Ricardo Clark. The 34-year-old midfielder had been with Houston since the summer of 2012, playing 178 games over the past six seasons. He failed to score last season – the first time that’s happened in his 13-season MLS career – but did add two assists and his presence in the dressing room with no doubt be missed. He has since signed with the Columbus Crew via free agency.

Alex: After picking up 11 assists in 32 regular season games last season, Alex will more than likely be missed in 2018. The Dynamo had tried to agree terms to extend his stay with them beyond the 2017 campaign but an agreement couldn’t be reached. He has since moved to South Korea to join Suwon FC on a presumably bigger salary that the one being offered by Houston.

Erick Torres: Erick ‘Cubo’ Torres has returned to Liga MX with Pumas UNAM for an undisclosed fee, following three years in Houston. He led the team in goals last year with 14. But unfortunately, he was only able to find the net twice in his final ten games of the regular season. His goals will be missed and his presence in the attack will be difficult to replace. But the decision to move him on following the offer from Pumas makes sense.

Tyler Deric: Deric departed Houston in damaging circumstances, following his arrest and charge with domestic assault. He was suspended following the incident in November and understandably released following the 2017 season. Deric is currently not eligible to be signed by any MLS team until his league suspension is lifted.

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MLS Preview and Prediction: Philadelphia Union vs Houston Dynamo

Competition: Major League Soccer – Philadelphia Union vs. Houston Dynamo 

Venue: PPL Park – Sunday, September 20 – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST)

Match Odds: Philadelphia Union 11/10 – Draw 13/5 – Houston Dynamo 9/4

Match Preview

Philadelphia Union will be in search of their first home win since July 11 when Houston Dynamo visit PPL Park on Sunday night.

Only winning two of their last nine, Philly have shown a recent run of form that justifies their current standing of ninth in the Eastern Conference. However, they only remain three points off the playoffs even if Montreal Impact (currently sixth) have three games in hand.

They are without a win in their last four matches though, so the Union may struggle to seal three points here.

Philadelphia Union’s record in MLS: P29 – W8 – D6 – L15

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Houston Dynamo haven’t been much better this season, having only won twice away all season. Owen Coyle’s men will feel that this has been another year of transition but they will also feel that they should be higher than they are in the standings.

The Dynamo finally have star striker Erick Torres back but he has yet to complete 90 minutes for them. If he gains full match fitness, he could be vital to any playoff hopes the Dynamo still have in the West.

Currently six points off the playoffs, Houston have it all to do, but it’s not unmanageable and a win in Philadelphia would keep hopes alive.

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They will need to transform their form to stand any chance as they are without a win in their last five away matches in MLS.

Houston Dynamo’s record in MLS: P28 – W9 – D8 – L11

Team News

Philadelphia Union will be without Jimmy McLaughlin who is suffering with concussion. Maurice Edu and Andrew Wenger are both doubtful.

Houston Dynamo are missing Jermaine Taylor, DaMarcus Beasley, Kofi Sarkodie and Luis Garrido through injury. Midfielder Alex is doubtful with a right hamstring strain. Raul Rodriguez is suspended through yellow card accumulation.

Key Points

Philadelphia Union’s last five: D/W/L/W/L

Houston Dynamo’s last five: L/D/L/W/L

Key Stat: Houston have won only once in their last ten matches on the road in MLS.

Key Player: Brad Davis – Fully fledged USMNT veteran Davis is integral to the Dynamo and has either assisted or scored in his last four games for Houston.

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Score Prediction

Philadelphia Union 1-1 Houston Dynamo – This one really could go either way. You can expect a goal fest that could see an open, entertaining affair or it could be a boring draw. We expect both teams to score in a tight contest, but we’re hoping for some goal action.

Houston Dynamo striker enjoying life under British boss

Houston Dynamo striker Will Bruin is enjoying his football under new boss Owen Coyle after scoring three goals in his last two appearances.

Bruin was instrumental in their 3-1 win against the Portland Timbers last weekend, scoring twice.

Dynamo captain, Brad Davis sympathises with the forward playing as a lone striker, suggesting: “It takes a mentally tough individual to do that, because it’s not always glorious,” Davis said when speaking to MLSsoccer.com.

“You’re usually getting hit from behind, usually up against two or three guys. It’s more about his mental strength than anything. He’s got the physical and athletic ability to handle that; that’s why he is there.”

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The Dynamo have adopted a 4-4-1-1 formation in recents weeks, playing Giles Barnes just behind Bruin, and it’s been so far so good for Coyle’s men.

Will Bruin was also approached about his role and had the following to say: “Under Dominic Kinnear was genuinely my first time ever playing as a lone forward.

“It’s a learning process, and the best way to learn is trial-and-error. Here, I think Owen (Coyle) playing (in the same position) really helps me. He tells you things you have to look for and things that are a little overrated,” said Bruin.

Owen Coyle has finally started to see some success come to his Dynamo side, and he will be hoping that Will Bruin will carry on his form.

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“I obviously know from own playing days how tough a job it is,” Coyle said. “It’s a thankless task for a striker to do the work that the team needs.”

Bruin has been brilliant recently, and he will have to continue this form to keep designated player Erick Torres out of the side once the Mexican arrives in Texas.

How influential has Will Bruin been to the Houston Dynamo and will he keep his place once Erick Torres arrives?

International Preview and Prediction: USA vs Mexico

Competition: International friendly – United States vs. Mexico

Venue: Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas – Wednesday, April 15 – 20:30 ET (01:30 BST)

Match Odds: USA 13/10 – Draw 11/5 – Mexico 7/4

Match Preview

The US Men’s National Team are back in action on Wednesday night after just two weeks as they take on fierce rivals Mexico less than 150 miles from the border in San Antonio, Texas.

Jurgen Klinsmann‘s side put in their best performance for a long time in their last game against Switzerland two weeks ago as they earned a solid 1-1 draw against the 12th-ranked side.

The latest FIFA rankings saw the USA move up five places to 27th, while Mexico went up three places to 18th and Wednesday’s nights game should be another fiery one, even though it will be played outside of a designated international window.

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That means that both sides will be without several key players as the majority of European-based stars will not make the trip across to play the game.

Mexico have not beaten the USA in their last five meetings but they have been in fine form since the World Cup, winning six of eight games and have won their last two games 1-0.

The USMNT have only won two of nine games since the World Cup last summer and although things weren’t looking too promising, the 1-1 draw with Switzerland last time out will fill fans with optimism heading into this one.

Klinsmann continues to experiment with his squad and has called up 14 MLS players for this one, with DeAndre Yedlin and Julian Green the only players travelling over from Europe with Tottenham and Hamburg respectively.

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Four members of the squad play their football in Liga MX and that will add some more spice to what should be another thrilling encounter.

Their latest meeting ended 2-2 in Arizona last April as Michael Bradley and Chris Wondolowski both netted the goals.

The two USMNT veterans are both in the squad again this time and will hope to continue to guide the younger players through.

Team News

Klinsmann has only called up nine players from last summer’s World Cup as he continues to experiment, but he will likely field his strongest lineup as victory in this one is important. Michael Bradley played in the No. 10 role against Switzerland and could continue there, while Gyasi Zardes could partner Juan Agudelo in attack as Jozy Altidore is suspended. Agudelo has received his first call up in over a year and will want to make his mark.

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Mexico head coach Miguel Herrera has called up a relatively inexperienced side for the game but striker, Erick ‘Cubo’ Torres will hope to impress. The 22-year-old forward will join up with the Houston Dynamo in the summer and he will be pushing for a start in the absence of Javier Hernandez.

Key Points

USA’s last five: L/L/W/L/D

Mexico’s last five: W/W/L/W/W

Key Stat: Mexico have not beaten the USA in five attempts and their last win came during the Gold Cup in June 2011.

Key Player: Michael Bradley – The Toronto FC midfielder is the most experienced on the USA roster and is likely to captain the team once again. He has four goals against Mexico to date and will want to add to that.

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Score Prediction

USA 2-1 Mexico – If the USMNT can build on their performance against Switzerland they will be in a strong position to win this. Their recent record against Mexico is good and with the game on home turf, Klinsmann will hope to seal an important win as the Gold Cup draws closer.

Analysis: Owen Coyle’s Dynamo proving to be effective without the ball

Owen Coyle has started life with the Houston Dynamo in Major League Soccer fairly well, with two wins, two draws and two defeats so far, and Saturday’s 3-0 win against the Montreal Impact saw Houston put in their most effective display yet.

Heading into the game, many expected Montreal to prove tough opposition, especially given their CONCACAF Champions League success in midweek but the Dynamo put in a highly effective performance to record their second victory of the season.

Coyle watched his side have just 34.6% of possession against Montreal and the Dynamo have now recorded the lowest average possession statistic in MLS this season after six weeks (44.2%).

Houston Dynamo statistics after six weeks (via WhoScored.com)

Houston Dynamo statistics after six weeks (via WhoScored.com)

They scored three times against the Impact from four shots on target and managed to keep a third clean sheet of the season despite allowing Montreal to five shots on target.

Their effectiveness without the ball is improving with each week as Coyle’s tactical approach is starting to shine through on the pitch.

English forward Giles Barnes is leading the attack well and has registered more than twice the number of shots than any other Houston player so far (16). He scored his second of the season against Montreal and the Dynamo have won both of the matches in which he has scored this season.

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Coyle sets his team up to absorb pressure before hitting opponents on the counter-attack and that approach worked perfectly against Montreal.

It is still very much a work in progress as the Dynamo continue to adapt to the Scottish coach’s philosophies but they have picked up eight points from six games and have only lost one of their last four now.

They travel to DC United next before three consecutive home games and Coyle will see those as matches Houston need to pick up points in, especially with all three against Western Conference opposition.

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The aim will be to make the playoffs at the end of the campaign, and although that will be a tough task in a highly competitive Western Conference, Coyle will be confident as his team should improve as the season progresses.

Designated Player signing, Erick Torres will join up with the squad in the summer, and his arrival should bring plenty of goals.

What have you made of Houston Dynamo under Owen Coyle so far? Will they make the MLS Playoffs this season?

MLS Preview and Prediction: Houston Dynamo vs Columbus Crew

Competition: Major League Soccer – Houston Dynamo vs Columbus Crew

Venue: BBVA Compass Stadium – Sunday, March 8th – 20:30 ET (01:30 GMT – Sunday, 9)

Match Odds: Houston Dynamo 5/4 – Draw 11/5 – Columbus Crew 11/5

Match Preview

Houston Dynamo host the Columbus Crew on Saturday night in their season openers of the 2015 Major League Soccer campaign. This one sees two good sides that have had eventful yet promising offseasons go head-to-head.

Houston has changed their manager, opting to go for Owen Coyle. The Scot replaces Dominic Kinnear who departed the club at the end of the 2014 season after eight years in charge.

The managerial change sees former Premier League manager Coyle take over a Houston side that needs to do better than last season as they have a lot of promise in the squad.

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With the addition of Erick Torres to bolster an already strong team that boasts World Cup stars DaMarcus Beasley and Brad Davis, the Dynamo could be set for a good season.

Starting a season at home is always a good thing and Houston are the favorites going into the game against the Columbus Crew.

Houston Dynamo’s MLS home record in 2014: P17 – W8 – D4 – L5

The Columbus Crew’s changes have been more image-based as the club enter 2015 with a new logo and are without too many changes to their roster. The addition of Kei Kamara will bolster their attacking options and is a good pickup.

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Midfield acquisitions, Mohammed Saeid and Kristinn Steindorsson will add depth to a midfield that is very strong. Defensive midfielder, Will Trapp was recently called up to the USMNT and will want to continue to impress this year.

Columbus Crew’s MLS away record in 2014: P17 – W5 – D6 – L6

A special mention has to go to Ethan Finlay as the young attacking midfielder chipped in with eleven goals in MLS last term and will be hoping for more of the same in 2015.

Team News

Houston Dynamo: No injuries and we’re expecting everyone to be available for selection. Will Bruin is set to start in attack while defender Raul Rodriguez should make his debut at centre-back.

Columbus Crew: Romain Gall is out of this game with a knee injury. Kei Kamara and Kristinn Steindorsson should make their debuts.

Key Points

Houston Dynamo’s form: N/A

Columbus Crew’s form: N/A

Key Stat: The Houston Dynamo have only lost once at home to Columbus in MLS, a 2-0 defeat in June 2011.

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Key Player: Federico Higuain – The Argentinian playmaker can lay on assists as well as score goals. He was key in 2014 for Columbus and if they are to take anything from Sunday’s game he will need to be at his best in a playmaking role.

Score Prediction

Houston Dynamo 1-1 Columbus Crew – A game that neither side want to lose and we don’t think either will risk losing in this one. It could be a tight game but with each side bagging a goal. Score draw.

MLS 2015 Season Preview: Houston Dynamo

As the new season draws ever closer we’ll have a new MLS 2015 Season Preview up everyday. Today we take a look at what the Houston Dynamo will be looking to achieve this year.

Houston Dynamo goes into the 2015 season with a new manager in Owen Coyle and a lot of room for improvement. Following the departure of Dominic Kinnear, the Dynamo have signalled their intent that they need to do better. Houston is a team in transition but they have failed to impress in recent times and need to try and bounce back this year. They will be looking to make their mark in the Western Conference following their move from the East to make room for the new expansion franchises.

Last season’s finish: Eastern Conference position: 8th – P34 – W11 – D6 – L17

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What needs to change this year? 

They need more points. For a team that boasts some highly talented players in DaMarcus Beasley and Brad Davis to name a couple, they need to be performing better. Owen Coyle will bring a British philosophy to this Houston side. And so they should hopefully be a lot better defensively this season and with it, increase their points output.

Key changes to squad:

Ins: Erick Torres – Forward (Designated Player), Raul Rodriguez – Defender, Joe Willis – Goalkeeper.

Outs: Mark Sherrod – Striker, Andrew Driver – Midfielder, Tally Hall – Goalkeeper.

Key player: Brad Davis – Midfielder

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Brad Davis is now the longest-serving player to stay with one club in MLS and he plays with pride every time he pulls on the orange of Houston and is a great leader for his side. Expect him to lead them again this season, while his threat from set-pieces is a great asset to the Dynamo. Davis is key to their season.

One to watch: Erick Torres – Forward

It may seem a controversial choice as Erick Torres is not expected to join up until June. However, expect him to have a huge impact on the productivity of this Houston attack. Torres scored 15 goals last term for a Chivas USA side that were below average. He is a natural goalscorer and great signing for the Dynamo. He will need to earn his Designated Player tag as soon as he rejoins MLS with the Dynamo.

Predicted finish: Western Conference – 8th

We’re not expecting miracles at the BBVA Compass Stadium this season and so a modest eighth-placed finish will be a good building block for a side that should be pushing for the playoffs the following year.

How do you think the Houston Dynamo will fare in 2015?

Weighing up the 2015 MLS Top Scorer Candidates

As we draw closer to the new campaign Lewis Addley has a look at who could be the top goalscorer come the end of the 2015 season. In no particular order here are the top five candidates, followed by a selection of those who will hot on their tails.

  • Bradley Wright Phillips: The New York Red Bulls goal machine has to be a considered once again. His record-tying 27 goal tally in the regular season last time out was an astonishing total which he will be eager to better this season. Without the support of Thierry Henry he will have to work extra hard and teams across the league will be aware of how dangerous he is.
  • Dom Dwyer: Sporting Kansas City’s very own Englishman. The 24-year-old was runner up to BWP last season with his tally of 22. Dwyer will be looking to impress once again and will want to emulate his form going into the new campaign. If he continues to be as deadly in the box while remaining fit, we could have a real long-term gem working his way up the all-time MLS goalscoring list.

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  • David Villa: New York City’s new superstar doesn’t need much of an introduction. The Spanish goal machine has scored countless times for all the clubs he has played for and is the highest goalscorer in the Spanish National Team’s history. Villa will be playing alongside Patrick Mullins and MLS rookie Khiry Shelton, with all three players looking to prove why they signed for the expansion franchise. Villa could find himself wide left instead of spearheading the NYCFC forward line, a position he has played very effectively for both Barcelona and Spain, so his position will determine just how many times he finds the net in 2015.
  • Robbie Keane: The veteran 34-year-old cannot go without a mention. Scoring the winning goal in extra-time of the MLS Cup final in December shows he still has the legs and hunger to find the back of the net. His tally of 19 last season is impressive considering he was playing alongside Gyasi Zardes and Landon Donovan, who scored 26 goals combined. Keane is still a star and as long as he is playing, LA Galaxy will score goals.

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  • Obafemi Martins: The Nigerian striker was the Seattle Sounders’ top scorer last season and he will be looking to help the Sounders retain their MLS Supporters’ Shield this year. With the help of Clint Dempsey we can expect Seattle goals to be spread around again. ‘Obagoal’ will want to break the 20 goal mark in 2015 as he came close to doing so last campaign.

Close runners: 

  • Jozy Altidore: Expect the big man to find his goalscoring form now he is back home in MLS with Toronto after difficult spells with Premier League sides, Sunderland and Hull City in recent years. If he can find his feet quickly he could be unstoppable.

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  • Erick Torres: The Mexican’s impressive tally of 15 last season with Chivas led to his move to the Houston Dynamo and he will hope to recapture his form in front of goal when he eventually joins up with his new teammates.
  • Patrick Mullins: If, as mentioned above, Mullins is to play through the middle with Villa out-wide it could be another partnership like Henry and BWP. Mullins showed real promise with New England in 2014 and could be set for a big year in New York City.

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  • Clint Dempsey: Again, as mentioned above, ‘Deuce’ was in with a share of the Sounders goals last campaign and his killer instinct in the box makes him a deadly forward every time he takes to the field.
  • Gyasi Zardes: The emerging USMNT star netted 16 goals last season but he will expect to improve on that tally this season. The 23-year-old has bags of confidence and ability to go with it.

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Three potential signings to replace Landon Donovan at LA Galaxy

With the recent retirement of Landon Donovan, the LA Galaxy has a huge hole to fill in their squad and an unoccupied designated player slot too. Though replacing the US soccer legend is no easy task.

Donovan leaves behind a great legacy with the Galaxy having recently lead them to his fourth MLS Cup title with the franchise and his sixth overall – the most titles won by any player.

However, it remains to be seen how LA will look to replace him. An attacking option is set to be added to the squad before the start of the new MLS season in March. Though they may wait until the summer if the right name is available then.

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Much of the post-Donovan chat has been on the permanent move to MLS for Erick Torres, but he has gone back to parent club Chivas Guadalajara in Mexico to help with their ongoing relegation struggle.

Bruce Arena may have to adjust his formation due to the loss of Donovan, which could expand the potential list of suitors.

His current 4-4-2 formation has seemed to work for some time now, but the loss of Donavan leaves a huge hole in the Galaxy squad.

Here are three potential replacements:

Darren Bent (Striker) – Aston Villa (England)

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England international striker Darren Bent has been somewhat of a forgotten man since Paul Lambert took over the reigns at Villa. And so Bent could do with a new challenge after seeing his starting place handed to Belgium front man Christian Benteke.

He could be a great partner for MLS MVP Robbie Keane, having previously played at Tottenham Hotspur as well as at Villa together. But this would mean re-positioning Gyasi Zardes from the Galaxy attack to accommodate Bent.

Ronaldinho (Attacking Midfielder) – Querétaro F.C. (Mexico)

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The World Cup winning Brazilian needs no introduction and a move to MLS giants LA Galaxy could be the swansong he deserves.

Ronaldinho can operate on either flank, through the middle or up front so he would be a suitable replacement for Donovan in terms of versatility. However, he doesn’t posses the defensive qualities of Donovan and so Zardes could be forced out wide to accommodate Ronaldinho’s arrival too.

Andrea Pirlo (Midfielder) – Juventus (Italy)

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Pass-master Pirlo is a World Cup winner like Ronaldinho and would further strengthen the Galaxy midfield. Marcelo Sarvas and Juninho could benefit by having Pirlo just in behind them to give them more freedom to attack.

He’s been linked with a move recently and the potential signing of Pirlo could would allow Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes to continue their lethal strike partnership, while giving them a player who can provide service from deeper.

Who do you think LA Galaxy will replace Landon Donovan with?

Erick Torres heads back to Chivas before possible MLS switch in 6 months

Erick “Cubo” Torres has dominated most of the postseason transfer headlines as his stance has been unclear since Chivas USA were disbanded as a club, but his situation looks to be finally resolved… for now.

The 21-year-old Mexican striker has been in talks with Major League Soccer for some time, as the league looked to keep him in the US. And they may have succeeded, but for now he’s going back to parent club Chivas Guadalajara of Liga MX.

Chivas are in a real relegation scrap as they have won just one of their last ten, and have failed to score in three of their last four. Solution – bring back Torres.

He netted 15 goals in 29 games for a poor Chivas USA side last season and will now look to carry that form into Liga MX to keep Chivas in the top-tier of Mexican football.

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That does not mean a move to MLS is dead in the water though as ESPN soccer reporter Tom Marshall indicated on Twitter.

Torres is expected to still make a return to Major League Soccer and will reportedly join up with a new team at the midpoint of the 2015 season.

The next big question then is ‘who is that team going to be?’ Well it seemed like LA Galaxy were frontrunners for his signature for a long time, as Torres himself was keen on a move to the MLS Cup champions, but the Galaxy are not believed to be interested.

They are looking to replace Landon Donovan with a designated player, but are exploring other options. Another rumoured destination for Torres was the Seattle Sounders, but they too are not believed to be chasing the talented young Mexican at this point.

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Last night, it emerged that the Houston Dynamo were in pole position to bring Torres back to MLS as Ives Galarcep reported on Goal.com.

According to the report, the Dynamo were willing to meet a $7.5 million demand for Torres but by sending him back to Chivas for six months, that fee could be lowered significantly.

The Dynamo therefore will be favourites for his signature after he is done on his rescue mission to Mexico.

Torres needs a home after a turbulent few months and a move to Houston would certainly be an intriguing move.

What do make of the Erick Torres situation? Would Houston Dynamo be a good destination?