Está de vuelta. He’s back.
Román Torres has returned to the Sounders, joining Brad Smith as members of the 2019 MLS Cup-winning team to come back to Seattle in the past two weeks. Here are five reasons to get excited about El Mazinger.
Rich Get Richer
The Sounders already boast the fourth-best defensive record in Major League Soccer, having only conceded 12 times in 13 matches this season. Seattle has been especially solid since the return of the MLS is Back tournament, and the addition of Torres only helps the Sounders’ chances of repeating as MLS champions. Speaking of…
Torres is a winner. Right up there with Stefan Frei’s superhuman save in extra time of 2016 MLS Cup, the images of Torres celebrating after finishing the decisive penalty kick in the shootout to capture Seattle’s first MLS Cup trophy will forever be a part of this club’s storied history. Torres then followed it up with a brilliant performance in the final in 2019 to buoy the Sounders to their second title in four years. He also has over 100 caps for the Panama national team and captained them to their first FIFA World Cup appearance in 2018.
At 34 years old and the fourth center back on the roster, Torres won’t be required to do the heavy lifting that he had to bear during his first stint in Seattle. But he will play a key role in pivotal moments that might otherwise faze younger players. He has played over 70 MLS matches, and since he’s coming from fellow MLS side Inter Miami, he won’t need to readjust to the league. He should fit in and contribute immediately.
Head Coach Brian Schmetzer has some real options to play with now and can adjust his center back pairing depending on what each individual match asks. If the Sounders are playing a bruising No. 9 who likes to be physical and eat up space in the box, for instance LAFC’s Bradley Wright-Phillips or Toronto FC’s Jozy Altidore, Schmetzer can roll out Torres and Yeimar Gómez Andrade, two tanks who aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and body up the opposition. If the Sounders are playing a shifty and quick forward, like the LA Galaxy’s Chicharito or Sporting Kansas City’s Alan Pulido, then Schmetzer can employ Xavier Arreaga and Shane O’Neill to keep up and go toe-to-toe. Few teams have this luxury and will be a major asset moving forward.
Torres won’t waste any time fitting in with the locker room, and his gregarious personality should provide a welcomed presence to his former teammates. Having that rapport can go a long way when things get tough during a season and when the matches become all the more important come the playoffs.