Colorado Rapids sign Panamanian forward Gabriel Torres as Designated Player

Gabriel Torres of Panama

Photo Credit: 
USA TODAY Sports

The wait is over. Gabriel Torres is a Colorado Rapid.

After a drawn-out and rumor-laden pursuit, the Rapids officially signed the 24-year-old Panamanian striker on Thursday evening, hours before the closure of MLS’ international transfer window. Torres arrives as the first Designated Player in franchise history.

Torres will be eligible to join the Rapids pending receipt of his P-1 visa. His Designated Player status comes from a combination of his salary and acquisition costs, the team explained, and he will occupy an International spot on Colorado's roster.

“I’m happy to join the Colorado Rapids, and I will give my all to this club,” Torres said in a statement on Thursday. “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.”

Torres arrives after joining Landon Donovan and Chris Wondolowski atop the 2013 Gold Cup scoring charts with five goals last month, including a two-goal performance in a group-stage victory over Mexico in early July. Torres’ arrival from Panamanian club San Francisco had been reported weeks ago, but reported interest in the player from France and Mexico helped prolong the transfer saga.

But the team ultimately got their man, even after Rapids technical director Paul Bravo labeling the chances of Torres’ arrival on Wednesday as “50-50."

“Signing Gabriel Torres as our club’s first Designated Player is a historic moment, but it’s most exciting because he’s the right player to help this team win,” Bravo said in a statement. “We want to thank the senior management at Kroenke Sports & Entertainment and Stan Kroenke for their support in bringing Torres to Colorado. We’re excited for him to join the squad.”

The Rapids had been seeking a proven goalscorer with newcomer Edson Buddle battling nagging injuries and the team struggling to find consistency up top for much of the season.

“Torres is dynamic and can score goals, and will give us a boost as we enter the final ten games of the regular season,” said Pareja in a team statement. “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 only arrived in Colorado on Thursday afternoon, with the Canaleros star believed to be dotting the I’s and crossing the Ts on a historic day for the streaking Rapids, who are riding a seven-game unbeaten streak and sit just three games out of first place in the packed Western Conference.

Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.