Seattle Sounders fans were probably a little surprised last weekend when head coach Brian Schmetzer introduced center back Roman Torres in the 84th minute against the New England Revolution. The substitution itself wasn’t the surprise, though Torres had been out for a few weeks with a hamstring injury; the surprise was that Torres played basically as a center forward for his 6+ minutes on the pitch. Even though he didn’t directly affect play, his presence clearly helped his team, who scored two rapidfire goals in the final 5 minutes of regular time to secure a draw.
Asked if we could see him at center forward again anytime soon, the Panamanian defender laughed—something Sounders fans are pretty used to be now—and said that he expects to be back in his regular spot in central defense soon.
How soon? Earlier this week, it seemed like Torres was close to making a full return, but Schmetzer was a bit cryptic regarding his chance to make the starting XI against Toronto FC. But on Wednesday, Torres said through a translator that he feels the last few weeks of training since injuring his hamstring have gone well and that he is “ready for Saturday’s game.”
Torres is relishing the rematch against Toronto, and he looks back on the MLS Cup final with a smile. Thinking about his winning penalty kick, he said “I was hoping that as soon as I put the ball down, the referee would blow the whistle so I can kick the ball right away. I just wanted to get it over with.” He said that people recognize him around Seattle, though they don’t always know exactly who he is; he thinks they recognize him because of his rather unique hair.
During Torres’ absence from the team after injuring his hamstring against San Jose, a number of defenders have moved in and out of Seattle’s backline. Other than last week’s match against New England, the Seattle defense has been quite solid. Torres noted that he attributes that to the strong base that the coaching staff has helped create in the squad, so that the “next man up” mentality provides a fluid transition for situations like this. He also said he “think well of them” and that he’s pleased with their effort and abilities.
Ahead of the much-anticipated rematch against Toronto on Saturday, Torres said he is “really happy” to play, even though it will be difficult. He said the team has been preparing heavily for this match, especially considering the good form that Toronto is in. As for matching up with Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco, Torres remarked that “we know that they move constantly during the game, and we need to find out exactly where they are at all times.”
Overall, Torres said that even though he and the team are really looking forward to this match, it’s really just another three points that they have to win at home. “It’s always important to win, whether it’s at home or away. Every time that there is a game, we prepare ourselves to get three points. That’s what’s important for us.”