Union Working to Retain Torres, Orozco Fiscal

Club hopes to bring back on-loan youngsters for 2011 season

As the Union’s technical staff
begin an offseason of preparation for the 2011 season, there are a number of
elements to consider and many decisions to be made.

The first is the expansion
draft, with Manager Peter Nowak and his staff hard at work whittling the club’s
roster down to a list of 11 protected players (excluding Jack McInerney and
Amobi Okugo, who will almost certainly retain their Generation adidas status,
and possibly Danny Mwanga, whose status is uncertain). As one might expect, the
process is fluid. There are, of course, certain players who are locks to be
protected. Then there’s the chess match of anticipating who the Vancouver
Whitecaps and Portland Timbers would select if unprotected, which will likely
impact some of the fringe decisions. According to Coach John Hackworth, Philadelphia’s
list is continually being tweaked as Vancouver and Portland announce player
transactions.

Another variable the technical
staff must weigh relates to the loan statuses of Michael Orozco Fiscal and
Roger Torres. Both players have clearly demonstrated their value to the club.
Orozco Fiscal, 24, finished second in minutes played while featuring in a
variety of positions, primarily on the backline, also chipping in two goals and
an assist. Torres, 19, began the year as a starter and finished as a spark plug
off the bench, displaying creativity, vision, and immense potential in both
roles.

In an ideal world, the club
would keep both young assets and help them continue to develop at PPL Park. And
that very well may happen. As with any roster decision, however, there are a
number of considerations, both financial and other. What is clear at this time
is that the Union are working to bring both back in 2011, whether the club
negotiates new loans or purchases their contracts outright.

"MLS and our club will work
to extend their stay with our team," Nowak told philadelphiaunion.com.

Orozco Fiscal, on loan from San
Luis of the Mexican First Division, started Philadelphia’s first-ever match as
a holding midfielder before featuring as both a wingback and centerback. While
small in stature compared to many other central defenders across MLS – he’s
listed at 5-9, 166 pounds – Orozco Fiscal appears most comfortable in the
middle of the defense, where he finished the season. The emergence of Sheanon
Williams as the club’s starting right back, a position that had plagued
Philadelphia in the early parts of the year, enabled Orozco Fiscal to assume
his more natural role.

“Yeah, he definitely had a better performance overall at the end of the
year when we moved him to centerback,” Hackworth told philadelphiaunion.com.
“It solidified our backline, which I thought came together a little better at
the end of the year.”

The
Union backline is still a work in progress, but the foursome consisting of
Orozco Fiscal and captain Danny Califf in the middle, with Williams on the right
and Jordan Harvey on the left, proved more than capable of shutting down
opposing sides. There were some rough patches, such as 4-1 and 3-1 losses to
Colorado and Columbus, respectively, in the club’s final five matches, but the
upside was there given more time to learn each other’s tendencies and grow
together as a unit.

The
case of Torres is a little bit more complicated. The on-loan midfielder from América
de Cali of the Colombian
First Division dazzled at times, showing rare ability as a creative midfielder. Not once did he go the full 90 minutes, however, and after starting
the club’s first seven matches he finished with only 10. Nevertheless, Torres
racked up six assists in less than 1,000 minutes played, an impressive total
for the youngster.

“Roger is a young player coming into this league, which is very
different from the league he played in previously in Colombia,” said Hackworth.
“He needs time to make those adjustments, time to grow and take the experiences
he had this year and put them into training in the offseason and come back. He
has a ton of potential, but at this level and in this league he needs to refine
some of the things that he needs to work on and maximize the things he is
already really good at.

“It’s
easy to put a guy like Roger in, who does have the flair, the creativity, and
is exciting, but you have to have the full package to really complement. It is
hard in the modern day game to give guys the luxury of not being good in every
aspect of the game. That’s not to say anything about one part of his game or
not - people will read into that and say, ‘Hey, that means he’s not a good
defender,’ but that’s not what I’m saying. It is more about where he came from.
He talked to us a lot about what it was like playing in Colombia and how that
was a big adjustment for him.”

If
the Union are able to work out deals for one or both of their on-loan players,
it’d certainly be in the club’s best interest to do so before expansion draft
protection lists are due on November 22. There’s no sense in using one of 11
valuable protection spots on a player who may not be back regardless, applying
a sense of urgency.

Only
time will tell how the situation transpires, but if all goes well expect to see
both Torres and Orozco Fiscal in Union kits come mid-March.

Related:

Q&A: Union Manager Peter Nowak

Unity Apparent as Union Continue Training