Roman Torres is perhaps best known to MLS fans as one of the defenders for the Seattle Sounders.
As one of marquee names in the MLS, Torres will be known as the ‘star player’ for the Panama National Team. He serves as Panama’s captain and has become one of the most identifiable faces from the team.
Torres has started to build a reputation for himself as of late when it comes to clutch goals, which you’ll learn a lot more about below.
Panama’s World Cup schedule pits them against Belgium, England and Tunisia so it’ll be a difficult, uphill battle for them to overcome. Their first match against Belgium begins June 18 at 11 a.m. ET.
Here’s what you need to know about Panama’s team captain, Roman Torres.
1. Torres has Been With the Seattle Sounders Since 2015
While the MLS isn’t very big in the United States, Torres has still become one of the more popular names (also one of the biggest) in the league. Although his time in the league has been short, he has already made quite the impact.
At age 32, he’s certainly closer to the end of his career than he is the beginning but he still has the ability to make good plays.
Roman Torres scored the Cup-winning penalty in a shoot-out against Jozy Altidore and the Toronto FC which won the Sounders their first MLS Cup in 2016. There was a lot of tension in the nearly 10 minute shoot-out but it all ended up working in the Sounders’ favor.
“I’ve done it before with other teams,” Torres said according to MLSSoccer.com. “It’s something that the Panamanians have in them – the dancing, the happiness. It’s good for the group. It doesn’t make a difference what [music] they put on, I’ll dance to it.”
2. Torres Scored the Game-Winning Goal Against Costa Rica Helping Panama Qualify For The World Cup
Like a fine wine, Roman Torres seems like he gets better with age.
Before the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Panama has never qualified for the tournament, but Torres helped them end the streak this time.
While this goal didn’t come down to the wire like the MLS Cup one did, but this one was arguably more important. With three minutes remaining, Torres scored what would end up being the game-winning goal against Costa Rica which helped Panama qualify for its first ever World Cup.
“Pure happiness. The Panamanians are so blessed with what happened,” Torres said of the goal, according to MLSSoccer.com. “It’s something we’ve been working towards for a very long time. I can’t say it enough, the stadium was just pure happiness and euphoria over what happened. It was a historic moment for our country and for our national team.”
Of course Panama has the United States to thank for their berth since it was all made possible since they lost.
3. Torres Has 10 Career Goals For Panama’s National Team
Roman Torres has been competing with Panama’s National Team since 2005 so he has quite the resume under his belt.
Although Panama has never competed for the World Cup until this appearance, Torres has still racked up 108 appearances for the team. He helped Panama achieve the second place finish in the CONCACAF Gold Cup in both 2005 and 2013.
His experience with the National Team and his talent has certainly earned him the team captain role.
Torres was a member of Panama’s U-20 (under 20) that was in the 2005 FIFA World Youth Cup.
There’s actually a lot more talent outside of Roman Torres, including Gabriel Torres and Gabriel Gomez. While Panama’s appearance in the World Cup is unexpected, the team should certainly be able to make some noise here.
There was a little worry that Torres might miss some time, including the World Cup, due to a hamstring injury but he has insisted he’ll be able to play.
One thing is for certain and that’s that Torres will look to add to his goals tally with this World Cup as it’s not guaranteed there will be another shot.
4. Torres Made October 10 a National Holiday in Panama
After Torres’ historic goal, Panama President Juan Carlos Valera declared October 10 as a public holiday as Panama qualified for their first ever World Cup.
While this could have been considered somewhat of hot take, President Valera followed through and signed the decree declaring the day as a national holiday.
The embedded tweet above reads:
The voice of the people has been heard; Celebrate this historic day for Panama. Tomorrow will be a national holiday.
While we haven’t seen the first anniversary of this holiday yet, Valera did announce workers were given the day off and schools were closed to help families celebrate the World Cup appearance, according to ESPN.
While Torres has spent over a decade with Panama National Team, it wasn’t until 2017 he became known as a national hero. He will look to continue his success into the World Cup. Panama will have its collective eyes on Torres and the rest of his team’s performance.
Even if Panama isn’t able to advance in the World Cup, Torres’ importance in getting them there in the first will live long in Panama’s history.
5. Torres Has Tattoos Commemorating His Achievements
While it may be hard for you to forget the two goals Torres had that led his teams to the MLS Cup and World Cup respectively, Torres has made it impossible to forget as he covered himself with a bit of permanent ink.
While he has many other tattoos, his most notable ones include one of him hoisting the MLS Cup while another features the date of October 10, 2017 in roman numerals, which is the day Panama qualified for the World Cup.
We’ve seen players across all sports get a lot of tattoos but few of them do so commemorating important moments like this.
His body is quickly running out of space for new tattoos but we figure if Panama is able to advance further in the World Cup, Torres will find some new spots for new ink. As the end of his playing career nears, Torres will have to start picking and choosing his tattoos.