COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – On the Colorado Rapids’ off-day on Tuesday, the team’s newest player, Panamanian striker Gabriel Torres, was doing conditioning work to get his body and lungs adjusted to his new home’s mile-high altitude.
That extra work could go a long way to getting the Rapids’ first Designated Player in franchise history to play 90 minutes in Colorado’s next match August 31 at Sporting Kansas City.
Torres made his Colorado debut last weekend, playing 78 minutes in Colorado’s 2-0 victory over the Whitecaps. Playing his home games at significant altitude for the first time in his career, he is spending his bye week concentrating on conditioning and gelling with his new teammates after only signing with the Rapids on August 8.
While Torres played deep into the second half on Saturday, he began to tire towards the end of his shift, and he hopes to be able to catch up conditioning-wise during the team's bye week.
WATCH: Interview with Gabriel Torres
“I’m working specifically in the gym to get better for the next game so I can be fully ready physically,” Torres told MLSsoccer.com after practice on Wednesday. “I already feel more comfortable, I’m more adjusted to the altitude and hopefully I can continue taking care of myself better.”
The 24-year-old was brought in this month to provide goals for the surging Rapids, who have a club-best nine-game unbeaten streak that has left the young side in 2nd place in the Western Conference. Torres wants to get into better shape for Colorado’s final eight games of the season to help provide his new squad with that scoring boost.
“When the team had a day off yesterday, I tried to train by myself to work and I’m trying to work with Oscar [Pareja] and Paul [Caffrey, assistant coach] to try and get better each day,” said Torres, who was called up to the Panamanian national team on Wednesday for two World Cup qualifiers in September. “I already feel better.”
Off the field, Torres is staying at a hotel as he waits for the rest of his family to arrive in Colorado. He said on Wednesday that he expects his wife and one-year-old daughter to arrive from Panama in the next few weeks, but in the meantime, he’s enjoying life in his new home.
“For the moment, I’m at a hotel,” Torres said. “I’m calm, happy to be here, and I’m working hard to rapidly adjust to the lifestyle here.”
The other major on-field concern for Torres will be meshing with his new teammates. But the only way he and fellow attacking newcomer Vicente Sanchez will fully integrate into the squad, according to Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja, is in time.
“Being at the training, the drills and trying to get that cohesiveness within the training,” Pareja told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday of his plans to further the newcomer duo into the group. “That’s basically what it is. I don’t want to do anything crazy. We don’t want to invent anything, just let it come naturally. It’s about time.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.