Seattle Sounders center back Roman Torres, who only recently returned from his long term knee injury, probably gave some fans a bit of a fright when he wasn’t in Panama’s match day squad for Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica. Luckily it wasn’t due to injury, but rather because his coaches were just giving him a break after going the full 90 in his previous game. According to Torres, he feels "a little tired" but is "ready to play" against the Earthquakes—the team the Sounders were playing when Torres tore his ACL last season—on Saturday.
Even though most fans don’t need any convincing after his play against Portland and Fanendo Adi two weeks ago, Torres says he’s still not at his best.
"I’ve been working hard, and I think with a few more games I will be back to the level that I was at before," he said.
Head coach Brian Schmetzer praised Torres prior to his eventual return to the pitch, often focusing on the defender’s sheer athleticism and size, as well as his leadership. That’s what Sounders fans saw in the few games Torres played last season, and the player himself has assured fans that nothing has changed: "I’ll do the same thing that I did when I first got here: to be a leader, to organize the defense, and play to zero."
Having already bested one of the best forwards in Adi two weeks ago, Torres faces another tough test against one of the best forwards in MLS history—Chris Wondolowski. Torres, who seems likely to get the nod in central defense, said he wants to focus on concentration "through the entire game." He admitted that while it will be a difficult game against a tricky opponent with "a good forward" in Wondolowski, the Sounders can come out on top if they concentrate on winning in San Jose.