Orlando City

Orlando City Needs Facundo Torres to Heat Up



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

A month into the 2023 Major League Soccer regular season, Orlando City finds itself fourth in the Eastern Conference standings with a record of 2-1-2 (8 points). That’s hardly a position to scoff at, given the schedule congestion with the Concacaf Champions League, injuries to key pieces like Designated Player Ercan Kara and Antonio Carlos, and heavy rotation in the squad to mitigate fatigue.

However, arguably the biggest piece yet to click into place — and an integral one if Orlando City is to fight for a home playoff berth — is the play of Young Designated Player Facundo Torres.

Torres has suited up for four of the team’s first five MLS matches, missing the 2-1 victory at Subaru Park last Saturday for international duty with Uruguay. So far in the 2023 campaign, he has played a total of 284 minutes. During his time on the pitch, he has provided one goal and no assists so far to start the season. The lone goal came from a penalty kick in the opening match of the season to provide OCSC with a 1-0 victory over the New York Red Bulls.

He has registered six shots on the season, putting only two of them on target, has successfully completed 82% of his passes, and has recorded two tackles.

In all fairness to Facu, he was slow to start the season last year before blossoming into the player who helped lead Orlando City to the U.S. Open Cup, was named to his country’s World Cup squad, and generated a significant amount of overseas transfer talk. Last season, a slow start was less surprising, because despite carrying the expectations as a DP, Torres was still a young player living in a new country for the first time, adjusting to the rigors of MLS play. The problem now, one month into the season, is that for Orlando City to achieve what many believe is possible, Torres simply doesn’t have the time to grow into his role in Year 2.

The combination of Torres, Kara, and new DP Martin Ojeda was viewed in the off-season to be one of the more formidable attacking trios across MLS, especially with the team keeping Mauricio Pereyra. Kara has been dealing with a right thigh injury, yet when on the field was already responsible for one of the best highlight goals in recent Orlando City memory. Ojeda’s narrative — much like 2022 Torres — is that there is an adjustment period to the league and to his new teammates which must be accounted for, however, in just the last two matches, Ojeda has already started to find his footing, contributing two goals and an assist while piling up shots and chances.

Expectations fall short of reality all the time, but Orlando City fans have seen what magic can happen on the field when Torres is at his best. The hope now, entering a tough home match against Nashville SC, is that after some time with his countrymen, Torres hits the pitch resembling a version of himself much more aligned with what fans saw from the dynamic playmaker from the middle to end of last season, as compared to the (at times) ineffective winger who has suited up in purple and gold to start this campaign.

Is Torres’ performance and finding his form the key to Orlando City taking the next step in evolving into an Eastern Conference powerhouse? Let us know in the comments below.


Exit mobile version