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Roman Torres looking to complete comeback tale with MLS Cup victory

Photo by Isaiah J. Downing/USA Today Sports
Photo by Isaiah J. Downing/USA Today Sports

TORONTO — When Roman Torres signed with the Seattle Sounders in summer 2015, he did so with the intention of wanting to win a championship. Nearly a year-and-a-half later and after having to deal with a major roadblock, Torres has his chance to accomplish just that.

The Sounders will square off against Toronto FC on Saturday in the MLS Cup Final, and the match in what is expected to be a frigid BMO Field could serve as a special exclamation point in Torres’ comeback story. The imposing 30-year-old centerback made his return earlier this year from the knee injury that ended his debut MLS season before it ever really started and left him frustrated for much of 2016 as he waited on the sidelines.

“As a player, it’s very tough to be injured and have to go to the stadium and watch your teammates play while you crave to be there helping out,” Torres told SBI. “It fills you with anxiety and anger. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, but I think I got by with a lot of patience. I never lost the faith in being able to return and return to a level where I’m playing well.”

Winning a title sure would be a sweet way to cap what has been a challenging year for the Panamanian international. Torres was unable to play for the Sounders as they struggled their way through the first half of the MLS campaign and even as they started to right the ship in August following their highly-publicized coaching change and the arrival of Uruguayan playmaker Nicolas Lodeiro.

Torres eventually stepped back on the field for the first time in nearly a full year on Aug. 28, coming off the bench and playing 45 minutes in a road loss to the Portland Timbers. He then strung together eight consecutive starts to close out the regular season, and his performances next to fellow veteran defender Chad Marshall in the heart of the Sounders’ defense provided the club with a major boost during that stretch and in the postseason run to the MLS Cup Final.

A major boost that might be getting overlooked by even the most astute observers.

“People talk about (head coach Brian) Schmetzer coming in, Nico coming, but I don’t think Roman gets enough credit,” said Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan. “He has come in and been lights out for us. He is a winner, he doesn’t like to lose, and for us to have him back alongside a guy like Chad Marshall, that partnership is just very tough to break.

“Those guys are very strong and physical and for me and (Osvaldo Alonso), it’s very nice to know we have one of the best centerback pairings right behind us.”

For Torres and Marshall, the challenge on Saturday is a steep one. Not only do they have to go up against an equally-intimidating physical specimen in bruising Toronto FC forward Jozy Altidore, but they also need to try and contain the crafty and clever Sebastian Giovinco so as to prevent him from wreaking the type of havoc that saw the Italian win the 2015 MLS MVP award.

It is a tall order, certainly, but one that Torres, Marshall, and the rest of the Sounders have been preparing for in order to try and claim the club’s all-elusive first MLS Cup.

“We’ve talked a lot about that,” said Torres. “Everything has to do with concentration. You have to be very concentrated because we can’t just focus on one player. They have 11 players – Giovinco, (Armando) Cooper, (Michael) Bradley – and they all can play. We have to all be concentrated and attentive to our assignments.”

Staying focused is key in any game, but especially in championship bouts where scoring opportunities sometimes are few and far between. That is why it will be imperative to the Sounders’ chances that Torres does a good job on Altidore, the U.S. Men’s National Team striker who is coming into Saturday in arguably the form of his life.

Altidore has scored in five straight postseason matches, the first player in MLS to ever do that, and he looked like a one-man wrecking ball in the dramatic and emotional series-clinching victory over the Montreal Impact last Sunday with his physicality, work rate, and sharpness in the final third.

Negating Altidore at home in front of the Toronto FC faithful with a title on the line might seem like a mountainous task, but Torres knows just how important that will be for the Sounders given that the game could come down to one play.

“It’s going to be a tight game,” said Torres. “That’s what I see: a tight game in which both teams are going to try and commit the least amount of mistakes. Then, we have to finish the chances that we have.”

If the Sounders are able to do that then they will give themselves a good shot at winning their highly-coveted first MLS Cup crown, and giving Torres the perfect ending in his comeback story.

“When I got here to MLS I came with the intention to become a champion with Seattle, but unfortunately I had an injury in the first season,” said Torres. “I’ve had to work very hard to get back and I’ve come back in the best way possible. I think every time a person sacrifices, you get compensated. I think all of my teammates have contributed to help me as well.

“I think, thanks with all their help, we’ve all gotten here because we’re a family, we’re very united, and we anticipate to be celebrating as a family on Saturday.”


  1. He might be now; he wasn’t, initially. Might be the $70k was for his initial partial season…I remember looking at that and thinking it was astoundingly cheap.

    $490k sounds a lot more in line with his abilities.

  2. Cannot believe the Sounders were able to land Torres for a measly $70K. Shows you how underrated CONCACAF players can be…dude plays for Panama so he gets no love? Guy is a monster, would be worth ten times that – easily – in Europe.


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