The Seattle Sounders have officially acquired Panamanian captain and centerback, Roman Torres. With this signing, Seattle has added three new international-caliber players in a week. The Sounders like Kentucky, the Huskers and USC before them, don’t rebuild, they just reload.
There’s nothing better than getting a new fancy toy than taking it out for a spin. First off, I don’t really know what to expect from the new Sounders. I am solely an MLS man and have never played FIFA in my life (I guess I’ve been deprived?). I can’t really give you any extra insight into Nelson H. Valdez, Andreas Ivanschitz or Roman Torres. But I am excited. With Torres most of all.
Torres represents the best of the best in CONCACAF. MLS must sign these types of players to become a “league of destination.” If all the PR fluff out of the league office is to be realized one day, MLS has to be able to cherry-pick from its own backyard. This will allow MLS to become one of the premiere leagues in the Western Hemisphere.
Signing CONCACAF stars is a major first step. The league has always scouted for projects (Oneil Fisher and Mario Martinez come quickly to mind) in the Caribbean and Central America, and has even done well signing names like Gabriel Torres, Blas Perez, Alvaro Saborio and Giles Barnes. Most of these players were either young guns trying their hand in domestic leagues (Gabby Torres) or lower European clubs (Saborio and Barnes). Only Perez came over from a quality league, LigaMX, as a veteran. But the recent signings of Giovanni Dos Santos and Roman Torres really raises the stakes.
It is different scouting the hinterlands of the region versus just grabbing established stars. MLS needs to look harder at Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama and Jamaica. Excepting Mexico, these are the better teams in our region. Mexico, is the outlier. MLS can’t expect to poach any and every player from El Tri, and that’s why the Dos Santos signing is huge. The man has played for Barca and Tottenham, has been capped 90 times by Mexico and is only 26 (though he was a little desperate to sign with L.A.). But we should be able to entice any player, even the best, from the rest of the confederation. And that’s why Seattle’s getting Torres is equally huge.
Torres is the captain of a CONCACAF power. He is in his young prime (29) and was steadily climbing the world football ladder. Torres choosing Seattle is a power shift for MLS. It isn’t a “name” player sputtering in Europe settling for the States (*cough* Dos Santos *cough*), it is an ascending player choosing MLS as his career destination. Toress leaves a respectable CONMEBOL club, Colombia’s Millonarios (sound familiar?) to come to Seattle.
MLS needs to have these players: every captain of every CONCACAF power. MLS should be able to sign a Bryan Ruiz-type player. Ruiz is the attacking captain of the Costa Rican team. The Ticos rocked the 2014 World Cup and that helped Ruiz jump from Fulham to Sporting Portugal (say hi to Fredy for us), but left MLS in the dust.
Coincidentally, another dominant CONCACAF player is Honduras’s Noel Valladares. The keeper and captain is one of the most capped players in his country’s history. Sure. he’s 38 and not exactly an MLS target now, but he should’ve been playing his trade stateside for the last decade. And us Sounders fans will get to see him twice in the next 10 days when Seattle plays home-and-home with CD Olimpia. Hopefully Garth and Chris have their eyes peeled in identifying new CONCACAF talent.