After tearing up the competition in the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup, Panama’s Gabriel Torres signed a Designated Player contract with the Colorado Rapids on Thursday. The signing came just hours before the Major League Soccer transfer window closed.
He will be classified as a Designated Player, the first in club history, due to a combination of salary and acquisition costs, the Rapids said in a press release.
“I’m happy to join the Colorado Rapids, and I will give my all to this club,” Torres said. “Coach [Oscar Pareja] has had confidence in me from the beginning. He told me about the team and the project, and that got my attention. It’s why I’m here — looking to do the right things. I’ll give my best to this organization and look to score many goals to help us win games.”
The 24-year-old Panama City native scored five goals in the Gold Cup, tying the United States’ Landon Donovan and Chris Wondolowski for the Golden Boot. After the tournament, he left Venezuelan club Zamora FC to join MLS, heading to Denver directly after the tournament for a short time before heading home.
“Torres is dynamic and can score goals and will give us a boost as we enter the final 10 games of the regular season,” Pareja said. “We had been looking at him since before the Gold Cup, but that tournament showed everybody what he is capable of. It’s great for the club that Torres is able to join us, and I am eager to see him on the field with the boys.”
Torres will join an attacking set-up that features MLS Rookie of the Year candidates Deshorn Brown and Dillon Powers, as well as former U.S. World Cup player Edson Buddle. The high-flying Rapids sit in second place in the Western Conference, having played two more matches than the four teams immediately below them.
To secure a playoff spot through the final stretch of the season, Colorado will need to find results against the Los Angeles Galaxy, Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers, as well as the Vancouver Whitecaps, whom the Rapids have not faced yet this year but will match up against three times before the end of the regular season.
It all starts on Sunday, with a trip to Chivas USA. Torres will be eligible to join the team as soon as his P-1 work visa is received.
“Torres is an important part of our goal of bringing another MLS Cup to our fans, and he can also help us continue to grow the sport in Colorado,” Rapids president Tom Hinchey said. “This is a big day for the Rapids and MLS.”
For a lot of us, that meant delving into statistics and seeing what matched the eye test. Many started Googling the name “N'Golo Kante“, the dynamic disruptor who’d move to Chelsea in August.
He’s a household name now, with some personalities even arguing that he should buck the trend of Ballon d’Or nominees including only major statistic producers (There was a time when names like Fabio Cannavaro and Matthias Sammer claimed the honor, you know).
For our purposes, we’ll use a pair of advanced stats sites and the good ol’ eye test. (Of the sites we’re using, Squawka seems to skew toward high attack scores, while WhoScored tilts a bit toward the back, so life is good if a player hits both sites’ Top 50).
Before getting into our team — we promise no 10-picture, click-to-reveal-next stuff — some stats that stood out.
— Three players have had outstanding “short” seasons for different reasons.
Leicester City’s Wilfried Ndidi took a short spell to adjust to the Premier League after arriving in January, but has been the Foxes’ most influential player in their recent turnaround).
Bournemouth’s Nathan Ake essentially was the Cherries’ first-half success before heading back to Chelsea where Antonio Conte won’t move him ahead of Marcos Alonso or Victor Moses (and that’s actually understandable as you’ll see below).
Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas just doesn’t feature a ton for Conte, but in limited time his per-90 stats on Squawka trail only Eden Hazard and Alexis Sanchez.
Ander Herrera (Manchester United, 7.44, 36.64) – Long-heralded at Athletic Bilbao, Herrera is finally showing what made him so sought. One odd stat that may be explained by his willingness to run to any situation: he’s very high in average times dribbled past.
Idrissa Gana Gueye (Everton, 7.34, 20.57) – The best player in Aston Villa’s awful 2015-16, he’s been arguably as effective as N’Golo Kante. Seriously.
Matt Phillips (West Bromwich Albion) – Once the top player on a relegated QPR, Phillips is fifth in the Premier League in assists despite missing the last four matches with injury.
Christian Eriksen (Tottenham Hotspur, 7.41, 31.89) – Second in the PL in key passes, he doesn’t get the plaudits of English teammates Dele Alli and Harry Kane. The relationships are very symbiotic.
Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace, 7.44) – On an under-achieving team, Zaha’s statistics are wild. He’s the most-fouled player in the league, and attempts/completes the most dribbles in the PL. He gives the ball away a lot, too, but that happens when you’re the focal point of everything your team does in the attacking third.
Alex Iwobi (Arsenal, 30.54) – The Nigerian turns 21 in May, and has four goals and seven assists across all competitions.
“[Ibrahimovic] is a genius, he’s very intense because he wants to win everything, even football-tennis,” Herrera said to Radio MARCA.
“He assumes this role of doing or saying what he likes in front of the media because he does not care, he can say that he’ll score 30 goals or is the best because he can afford to.”
There’s certainly something to stature when it comes to saying what you feel (though on the other hand, being egotistical is rarely controversial. It’s not like Ibrahimovic is often railing on controversial soccer or social issues).
We’re sure there are plenty of players across all sports, casual and professional, who don’t understand hyper-competitive teammates, but we love a guy who doesn’t turn it down when it comes to on-the-field activities. Hopefully Ibrahimovic is the Jaromir Jagr of soccer.