At the start of 2016 Roman Torres was recovering from a torn ACL. Despite that he was regularly called into Panama’s training and competitions. Even when not playing he was the captain of their team. When he came back to the Seattle Sounders he was a potent centerback who changed games, but it was late in the season.
The ranking is based on several hundred Sounder at Heart readers’ votes. Realio rated every single MLS regular season and playoff game as well as the two CONCACAF Champions League matches. He did not rate USL or USOC play.
Roman Torres 2016
Roman can contribute to an attack through pinpoint long balls and headers on set-pieces. His short and medium passing skills are typical of an MLS CB. Every other match or so he will make a run well forward. When Seattle dominates possession he will creep into the attacking side of the center circle.
Normally we don’t go back to 2015, but there’s a little story about Román Torres from his signing. The good folks at translate.google translated his name, to Roman Towers. Which was great fun, but he is not just an immobile slow defender - a tower.
Torres is mobile. He cuts out passes quite well. A defender that tries to sprint past his body is slowed enough that Roman gets the ball. He reads space well and enjoys the frequent contact with MLS’ best target forwards. A set-piece that goes up against Torres will need a new target. Torres is not beat. A pick play results in an attacking player on their butt.
If main battle tank could play soccer and dance it would do so as Torres does. He plays with power and strength. His ability to win balls in the air is game-changing. More nimble than is expected out of such a large body. Lacks good endurance, but is in a position where that should never be an issue.
To say Roman Torres was a surprise might be unfair. I think what we got this season was the player we all expected last season, but there was definitely some uncertainty if he could be the player he was prior to his 2015 season ending knee injury. Torres not only showed zero side effects from the injury, but personally outperformed my expectations in 2016. There is no denying that Seattle played better defensively with Roman on the field.
Roman came in at halftime of the Portland game and never looked back, securing the starting right center back position and quickly developing on field chemistry with partner Chad Marshall. He played in 9 games for Brian Schmetzer, and I rated him with a very strong 6.33 in the regular season. Torres boosted his overall average to a 6.462 by appearing in 4 playoff games at an awesome 6.75 clip. Roman may have only appeared in 13 games this season, but after that initial halftime appearance (already down 4-0) the Sounders had 9 wins, 1 loss, and 2 ties in games that Torres played in.
Looking at my ratings for Roman it’s hard to quantify exactly what “it” is that he possesses. Somehow he is always in the middle of winning combinations, whether making defensive plays, encouraging others, or knocking in Cup winning PK’s. Torres is a no-nonsense player who is at times more likely to clear long than to play with possession in the back. His physical presence is enormous, but it hides a wonderful tactical awareness that sometimes gets lost when reviewing him. The Marshall/Torres pairing covers for any pace issues via a near perfect communication and positioning ability from both. Torres, for all his dancing and bigger than life persona isn’t a flashy player, instead consistently doing a lot of little things right that greatly improved the defensive identity on the team. I look forward to his first full season as a Sounder and think he has an opportunity to keep improving his play. I just don’t know how any team is going to mark everyone from Seattle on set pieces, watch out for Roman to bang home a few in 2017.
Best Case 2017:
Defender of the Year, All Star, Best XI