It's hard to keep an active blog going when you're deployed for six months out of the year, but we're back all the same. Hopefully everyone enjoyed their holidays, and without further ado, let's get down to it.
Houston Gets Cubo Torres - There weren't a lot of bright spots for Chivas USA in 2014, but the emergence of 21 year-old Mexican striker Erick 'Cubo' Torres was certainly one of them. With 15 goals in 29 starts, Torres accounted for over half of Chivas USA's goals last season, and now he's bringing his talents to Houston. The Dynamo had just two players tally more than four goals last season, Giles Barnes and Will Bruin. Add Torres into the mix and the trio is almost certainly going to be more productive than last year's stable of strikers that included Omar Cummings, Mark Sherrod, Jason Johnson and Bryan Salazar, a foursome that combined to score just 5 goals in upwards of 1500 minutes. With a veteran core that consists of National Team veterans Brad Davis, Ricardo Clark, and DaMarcus Beasley, Houston is almost sure to rebound from a disappointing 8th place finish in the Eastern Conference. Let's not forget, this is a Houston team that is just two years removed from back-to-back MLS Cup Finals appearances. If you're looking for an early favorite to rebound from a subpar 2014, here's our early selection.
Whitecaps Sign New Designated Player - Vancouver has added a new striker to its roster signing 22 year old Uruguayan Octavio Rivero. Rivero comes to the Caps after spending the 2014 season playing in Chile for O'Higgins FC. He's scored 23 goals in 52 South American league matches over the past three seasons, and played for Uruguay's youth national teams growing up. Rivero should be able to step into the starting lineup immediately as Vancouver struggled to get production from its strikers during the 2014 season. Don't forget that Vancouver will also be playing in the Champions League next year, so this move could set them up for more than just regular season success.
Will the Impact Make a Move? - Marco Di Vaio's retirement and the loss of veterans Matteo Ferrari and Heath Pearce leave some question marks as Montreal gets ready for their Champions League quarterfinal tilt with Pachuca next month. Di Vaio scored two thirds of Montreal's goals during the group stage and he finished the 2014 season as the club's leading scorer despite making just 17 starts. Ferrari and Pearce meanwhile each made 20+ starts on the Impact back line. The Impact have been relatively quiet this offseason bringing in defenders Donny Toia and Bakary Soumare, Serie A veteran midfielder Marco Donadel, and English midfielder and Premier League veteran Nigel Reo-Coker who split last season between Vancouver and Chivas USA. The question remains though, who will replace the goal scoring ability of Di Vaio? Montreal still has Jack McInerney and Andres Romero atop the depth chart, and they'll be aided by the veteran Donadel who should mesh nicely with fellow midfielder Ignacio Piatti. Piatti scored 4 goals in just 6 games when he debuted late last season. That said, don't be surprised to see the Impact try and bring in another goal scorer before their next game.
Coming Soon - Some stuff to put on your calendar as we get ready to start the new year:
January 28th - USMNT at Chile
February 8th - USMNT at Panama
February 24th - Montreal Impact at Pachuca (CCL Quarterfinals)
February 26th - DC United at Alajuelense (CCL Quarterfinals)