After days of speculation and rumor, Roman Torres was officially announced as the newest Seattle Sounders center back on Wednesday. Torres, a 6-foot-2 center back, is the captain of Panama's national team and a constant threat on set pieces, having already scored three goals in the first half of Millonarios' season. The Sounders used Targeted Allocation Money to acquire Torres, but other details of the transaction were not announced.
"Román is one of the best defenders in CONCACAF and an imposing player who we believe will make an impact in MLS," Sounders FC General Manager and President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey said in a team release. "We think he can help us both as a defender and on attacking set pieces. Perhaps most importantly, he really wanted to come to Seattle and when the opportunity to acquire him arose, we took our chance without hesitation."
Torres, 29, has 79 international caps and has scored 44 goals for club and country since 2004. Most recently, he had helped lead Panama to a third-place finish in the Gold Cup. He's also considered one of his national team's leaders and his move had become a cause celebre among fellow national teamers, who had started using the term "hay fe" -- a Panamanian saying that translates to "have hope" -- on Twitter.
"We believe Román's athleticism and leadership are valuable assets to this club as we head into the final stretch of our season," said Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid. "He's a player who has achieved success at both the club and international levels. We're going to help Román integrate into our team as quickly as possible, and we look forward to his contributions at Sounders FC."
Reports linking Torres to a Sounders move first surfaced on Thursday, shortly before the close of the summer transfer window. Although those initial reports seemed speculative, at best, it quickly became apparent that the move was an actual possibility. But almost as soon, it became clear that this was not a simple move as multiple agents and multiple teams were all involved.
The Sounders' patience and willingness to work through the morass involved in placating multiple parties -- even on a "free" transfer -- eventually paid off. By Sunday night the main hold up -- Torres' first professional team -- had gotten out of the way and by Monday, Millonarios' president was saying the move was basically complete. Torres was on a flight bound for Seattle on Tuesday where he met with Sounders officials before signing his contract.
Although the final approval came several days after the transfer deadline, the move was allowed as the paperwork had been filed on time. To make room on the roster and open an international roster spot, the Sounders moved Jamaican Damion Lowe to the disabled list. Lowe will still be eligible to play for S2, but this likely closes the book on any possibiliy he'll suit up for the first team this year.
Torres was also in the middle of Millonarios' season, so he could feasibly be available as soon as Sunday for the match against Orlando City or as soon as the Sounders receive his international transfer certificate and Torres gets his visa.
"I'm very pleased," Torres said in an interview with SoundersFC.com. "I had fought hard to get to this point. I will give my best and do things well. I'm feeling happy to be in this great institution."