WAYNE, Pa. – Roger Torres has been a crowd favorite ever since he came to Philadelphia.
Union supporters saw examples of his technical skill and vision going all the way back to the franchise’s inaugural match in Seattle.
In 2011, his playmaking ability and knack for adding timely goals solidified his status as a vital cog in the Union attack. Look no further than his electrifying game-winner at home against New York.
Last month, the Union technical staff exercised their option to acquire Torres’ full rights from Colombian side América de Cali. Torres, who was previously on loan, is now a full member of the Union.
“I’ve always felt okay and secure here,” Torres said through a translator following preseason training last week at YSC Sports in Wayne, Pa. “I’ve always felt like Philadelphia is my home. I feel better now that I’m part of this family.”
Now that the doubts about Torres’ future are settled, the 20-year-old can fully focus on becoming a more consistent contributor to the club.
Torres had a successful 2011, scoring three goals and adding two assists in 931 total minutes of action. He appeared in 25 games and made nine starts, often entering games in the second half to jumpstart the offense.
The numbers are similar to 2010, in which Torres started 10 times in his 21 appearances. He didn’t score that season, but tallied six assists and was instrumental in his distribution over 958 minutes of play.
Torres' creativity, quickness and ability on the ball are unquestioned. Now Torres needs to prove that he can consistently log extended playing time, which is a natural progression for a young player.
“I’ve always felt that I have a lot of responsibility here,” Torres explained when asked about his role in 2012. “I feel the same way, because I’ve always tried to give my best. This is no exception. I know I can do better and I’m always going to try my best.”
Torres is a member of the Union’s Colombian contingent, which last year included Faryd Mondragón, Carlos Valdés, and Juan Diego González. That group is now down to two after González was waived by the team and Mondragón decided to return to Colombia.
Torres was especially close with Mondragón, who served as a mentor and father figure. But the 20-year-old is confident in the club’s new-look roster.
“I already feel as though I’m a professional. (Player movement) is part of the game,” he said. “We need to focus on the team that’s here and the people that are already here, and do what’s best this year. I think we have a good team. We’re very technical. We can do very good things this year."