Erick Torres delivers again and sends Chivas to the Mexican Cup final
GUADALAJARA, Mexico -- After a rocky start, the story of Erick "Cubo" Torres' temporary return to hometown team Chivas de Guadalajara is beginning to crescendo towards the fairytale ending he had hoped for.
The 22-year-old striker, on loan this season from MLS outfit Houston Dynamo, left the field to a standing ovation in Estadio Omnilife on Wednesday night, after scoring the second goal in Chivas' 2-1 comeback victory over Chiapas in the Copa MX semifinal. The win puts Chivas through to the final of the Mexican Cup and gives them a chance of their first piece of silverware since the Clausura 2006.
"Now we are one game from making history by becoming champions of the Copa MX and I'm happy to have returned and helped my team with goals," said a beaming Torres after the match.
Torres' 73rd minute winner was a simple tap in, the completion of an extraordinary piece of close control and dribble by Chivas center back Kristian Alvarez that had Chiapas coach Sergio Bueno humorously compared him to Messi after the game. But Torres was there, in the right place at the right time to scramble the ball home and do what he does best.
Just four days ago, Torres had struck twice in the last 17 minutes as his team also turned around a 1-0 deficit to claim a 2-1 victory in the vital relegation clash against Puebla.
With two winning goals in the club's last two matches, cries of "Ole, ole, ole, Cu-bo, Cu-bo," rang out around the stadium on Wednesday as the youngster was taken off with a slight knock to his knee in the 82nd minute. It was the type of magical moment that Torres returned for and a pertinent reminder of how quickly things can turn around in soccer. Eleven days ago, Mexico international Torres was the club's third-choice striker and wasn't even a guarantee to make the match-day squad for Liga MX games. Now, he surely has to be the starter when Chivas face Toluca in the Liga MX on Sunday.
Chivas stayed true to Jose Manuel "Chepo" de la Torre's style on Wednesday, giving as little away as possible, making sure every player contributed defensively and attempting to systematically pick holes in the opposition. It wasn't pretty. It was a poor first half from both sides, with just a Torres shot from the right touchline that caught 'keeper Oscar Jimenez off his line and struck the post bringing the 16,000 crowd to its feet on a relatively cold evening in Guadalajara.
After the break, forward Silvio Romero headed in for Chiapas on a classic counter attack in the 52nd, before midfielder Angel Reyna equalized for Chivas 11 minutes later and Torres got the winner.
The Copa MX may have been derided by some in some quarters, but the final, which will be at the winner of the Puebla versus Monterrey semifinal, is a welcome boost for a club that has been bordering on crisis for the last few years.
Avoiding relegation remains the priority, but you can bet that should Chivas lift the Copa MX, Guadalajara natives will pour out onto the streets and head to the city's Minerva roundabout -- the city's traditional celebration point -- to dance, sing and drink into the early hours.
That would be cathartic for a club that has pulled together under De la Torre's leadership and is slowly winning back its fans. And in that respect, Torres has been an inspiration.
Tom Marshall covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @MexicoWorldCup.