According to rumors in Colombia and Panama, Millonarios FC manager Jose Luis Pinto is targeting Román Torres to reinforce his back line during his first season with “Los Embajadores”. It should be no surprise that rumors linking Roman to several teams are already beginning to resurface. Coming from a season in which he lost his starting role to Kim Kee-hee and only started in 7 games in league play, teams previously interested in acquiring the Panamanian might see an opportunity to negotiate a good deal to land Torres.
At this time, Millonarios is the only team directly named in reports of teams interested in the Sounders centerback, and any time their name surfaces it should be taken seriously as they have been after Torres for the last two seasons. However, as expected for a prime name defender like Torres, his potential availability has reportedly sparked the attention of several candidates beyond Colombia, including unnamed teams in the Chinese Super League and MLS.
Additionally, a player of Román’s trajectory is not complacent with having a secondary role off the bench despite having to do it for the majority of last season, a subject Garth Lagerwey has mentioned repeatedly will be discussed with players and will be considered when making decisions about potential moves. During my last conversation with Torres before the second semifinal playoff leg against Portland, he told me, “My ultimate goal is to play every game, start every game and lead the defense, although I will always do what it takes to help the team, so I practice hard every day to be ready, come in off the bench and perform as I did in Portland.”
Clearly “El Mazinger” wants to be a solidified starter, leaving an extremely challenging decision in hands of Seattle’s front office, who will have to determine whether they see the 32 year-old Torres in their immediate future. In both of his semifinals appearances he showed that he can still bring a dominant physicality to the back line and can be clutch and excel in high-stakes playoff games when the team needs him most, which must be considered when making that final call.
Although Chad Marshall had a fantastic year which was worthy of Defender of the Year, his age and the injury he will be coming back from could raise some concerns; Kim, on the other hand, displayed some inconsistency during Seattle’s last 5 games, in which they conceded nine goals. Nonetheless, the Marshall/Kim pairing did play well during most of the season and with several clubs reportedly interested in Torres, perhaps a deal that makes sense will land on Lagerwey’s desk.
Personally, I continue to be of the belief that the “Canalero” is one of those players who will be dearly missed once is too late. Just imagine the player who scored the decisive penalty kick that gave the Sounders their first title in 2016, adding a second tattoo lifting an MLS Cup with another team or losing him abroad without finding a replacement who can provide the defensive security that having him on the roster offers.
The burden to find a defender who could imminently become a starter if need be would be on Chris Henderson, since Tony Alfaro has not been able to prove he can be a reliable starter at centerback and promising young prospect Sam Rodgers could still be several years away from being able to step into such a lofty role.
Bottom line, it’s very possible that one of the most recognized defenders in MLS could be playing elsewhere in 2019, leaving his name written in the history books as well as in the hearts of Seattle fans. That feeling is mutual — before the semifinals when asked about his tenure with this club, Torres responded, “I love the city, this fan base, [and] my teammates, but I really don’t know what the future may bring, I just have to have faith it will all pan out.”