UPDATE: Inter Miami officially announced the signing of Roman Torres on Sunday, saying they added him as a free agent. There was no word on the terms of the deal, but it is believed to be at a reduced rate from what he was due if the Sounders had exercised his option.
It appears to be the end of an era for the Empire of Roman — at least in Seattle.
Sounder at Heart has independently confirmed a report from Paul Tenorio of The Athletic that Panamanian center back Roman Torres is set to sign with expansion side Inter Miami, who open their inaugural MLS season in March 2020. Torres had his 2020 MLS option declined by the Seattle Sounders after the 2019 season ended, with the Sounders claiming their second MLS Cup title.
Torres was signed by the Sounders on Aug. 12, 2015 and immediately became a fan and locker room favorite. His initial campaign with the Sounders was cut short after suffering an ACL injury against the San Jose Earthquakes in September of that year, but he returned to the team in August 2016, and famously converted his spot kick in the MLS Cup shootout against Toronto to secure the team’s first title.
During the end-of-season press conference, Sounders General Manager and President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey indicated that an offer had been made to Torres to return for the 2020 season, but at a reduced salary. Torres also negotiated a potential return to his former club Millionarios in Colombia, whom the Sounders signed him from. The Sounders may be due some sort of compensation from Inter Miami, if the offer they extended him qualifies as “bonafide.” (Editor’s note: A source with the Sounders confirms that the team will not receive any compensation from Inter Miami when the signing becomes official.)
Though there were issues with fitness in the aftermath of the 2016 MLS Cup-winning season, Torres was a fixture in the Sounders’ lineup along with Chad Marshall in 2017. He saw limited time with the team in 2018, due to a variety of factors including injuries and his participation in the World Cup that year, Panama’s first appearance in that tournament.
In 2019, Torres again saw significant time on the field until a violation of the MLS Substance Abuse and Behavioral policy sidelined him for 10 games over the summer. Torres did return to action against the Earthquakes on Sept. 29, and scored the winning goal against Minnesota United a week later. Torres’ last start for the Sounders was in the MLS Cup final.
After the Sounders declined Torres’ 2020 option, he was made available in the 2019 MLS Re-Entry draft, though he was not selected in either phase of that process. That left him available to teams on a first-come, first-serve basis. The Sounders has expressed some hope Torres would accept their reduced offer. A source indicated that Torres’ preference was to play in Miami, where he would seem likely to slot in immediately as a starter. Inter Miami also appear ready to name a head coach as well. The Sounders visit the expansion side on Aug. 28, 2020, the only time the two teams are scheduled to meet.