Making the Western Conference Finals is a signal for a pretty good year. The Seattle Sounders finished 2nd in the regular season and are now assured of at least a top two finish in the West’s playoffs. But, because MLS is MLS, the games are a long way off. Leg one isn’t until November 21 (7:00 PM, FS1), with Leg two all the way on November 30 (7:30 PM, ESPN).
As of today, their first game is 9 days away. That’s 9 more days for you to forget about the playoffs and the Sounders. We’re here to make certain that doesn’t happen*.
Today’s reminder that the Sounders are in the West Finals against the Houston Dynamo (another two-leg, aggregate-goal series with an away goal tie-breaking mechanism) is:
Roman Towers — Román Aureliano Torres Morcillo
He is the dancer, superhero, and centerback that sometimes plays right back, target forward and even attacking midfield.
In defense he is part of the twin towers. Where Chad Marshall is all conventional American centerback Torres is something different.
Román is massive. He would be appropriate on an NFL field. His 6’2 195-ish frame is put to good use as a CB. People do not win the ball in the air against Torres (nor Marshall). They also don’t win a shoulder or hip challenge against Torres because he is tower. Their attempts to get around him take minutes, as his massive torso makes tiny slip-moves impossible.
But Torres is more than just a giant CB.
With Seattle often splitting their backs wide with both fullbacks up in attack and a defensive mid dropping deep Torres is well wide of the 18, and from that space he will get forward — often.
Just check out his heatmap in the home win over Vancouver Whitecaps.
That’s not normal.
Torres gathered two assists on the season and completed 10% more passes than expected in the final third. Plus there are times when he is the target man. These are not just latent opportunities due to set-pieces. It has been by design in late game situations and it is also because Torres spirit is free from conventions that most centerbacks have.
Despite his status as Legend in Panama, Torres stayed in Seattle focus on an MLS Cup run rather than get in some more minutes with his nation as they prepare for the World Cup. He is a captain, a leader so respected that in the past he joined Panama despite injury.
He is also the embodiment of joy. Whether dancing, staring at hats, or celebrating goals Roman Torres finds life’s joy.
Lest we forget, he is also a damn fine centerback. He and partner Chad Marshall dominate MLS offenses. Matt Doyle’s nugget hints at that greatness.
Go right at Chad Marshall and Roman Torres, and you're probably going to lose. Since June, when those two start at center back, Seattle are 11-0-6 with a +25 goal differential. Good luck.
In Torres two non-starts since June the Sounders lost 2-0 at Philly and drew 1-1 at Vancouver. In Marshall’s non-starts since June the Sounders drew 0-0 at Dallas and lost 2-0 at RSL.
The defense is good, with Torres and Marshall as twin towers defending the front.
This is why you have plans for November 21 and 30 — Roman Torres.
*You probably forgot about the playoffs the past couple days. Sorry about that.