The past couple of months have been difficult for Seattle Sounders center back Román Torres.
Prior to the Rave Green’s 1-0 win over Minnesota United at CenturyLink Field on, the Panamanian defender hadn’t started an MLS match since July 27, as he had been handed a 10-game suspension by the league.
“It is very hard to be out of playing for about 10 games,” Torres said after the match. “But this is a demonstration that, during the time that I was not available to play, I was keeping myself in shape.”
With center back Xavier Arreaga suspended for the match, Torres was asked to step in and contain a dangerous Loons attack that boasted the likes of Darwin Quintero, Ángelo Rodríguez and Mason Toye. Not only did he help the back line record its 10th shutout of the campaign, he also scored his first-ever MLS goal to secure three points and the coveted No. 2 seed in the Western Conference for the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs.
“I was able to come back today and score this very beautiful goal,” he said. “I feel very happy about that.”
Sounders FC Head Coach Brian Schmetzer, who coached Torres to back-to-back MLS Cup Final appearances in 2016 and 2017, spoke glowingly about his veteran defender after the match.
“Román is a very accomplished player on many different levels of this sport, on a world stage, on a continental stage,” said Schmetzer. “We are very, very happy to have him at this franchise, not just because of today’s goal.
“I’m just so proud that he was able to continue to keep himself in shape and continue to keep believing in himself, because the players all believe in Román,” he continued. “I believe in Román, and he was a big part of this game tonight because he scored, but I also think he played pretty well defensively as well.”
“Obviously, great to have him back and to score a goal like that is really important for the team,” said Morris. “He’s a team-first guy, so he just wants to come and help the team however he could and obviously being good on the defensive side was good as well. We are happy to have him back.”
Torres’ match-winning goal will certainly grab the headlines, but his defensive contributions and veteran composure were critical against a dangerous attack. Protecting a one-goal lead for much of the match, the Panamanian pitched in one block, one interception, four recoveries and six clearances as he helped restrict the Loons to just a single shot on target.
As the Sounders gear up for an 11th consecutive playoff run, which begins on October 19 with a match against FC Dallas, the team can rely on Torres to step in and contribute match-winning performances when called upon.