Interim Colorado Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni doesn’t want to put the pressure on striker Gabriel Torres to score goals this year. Torres, rather, wants to put that pressure on himself.
The 25-year-old Panamanian signed with Colorado last August, becoming the first Designated Player in franchise history, and he carried high expectations into the Mile High City as a result. While intermittently ducking out for international duty during his opening spell in Colorado, Torres showed flashes of his potential, scoring three goals in his eight games. This year, however, Torres wants more.
“We’re here to start a new year together and to start a good year,” he told MLSsoccer.com. “We want to do better things than we did last year and I want to score more goals to help the team get more points.”
It was Torres’ critical brace on October 19 that clinched the Rapids a playoff berth that day, where the 2013 Gold Cup co-leader in goals blasted arguably Colorado’s best goal of the season in the 77th minute, an upper-90 unstoppable screamer from outside the 18. The breathtaking goal not only gave the Rapids the go-ahead goal, it gave his new team a glimpse of what he’s capable of as a lethal striker that the team had lacked prior to his arrival.
But even with Torres’ unique nose for the goal, Mastroeni doesn’t necessarily want Torres to shoulder the goal-scoring burden.
“I’d never put that kind of pressure on anyone,” Mastroeni told MLSsoccer.com. “Just like defending is a team effort. … Dillon Serna has netted two [goals] from an outside position. Deshorn [Brown] did that quite a bit last year from the wings. Edson Buddle can score goals, [Vicente] Sanchez can score goals. [Charles] Eloundou can score goals.”
“I’m not counting on one guy to save us from a defensive standpoint, and I’m not counting on any one guy to be the hero on the attacking end. Any time you can be efficient with your attack, I think you can get a lot of guys involved in that regard. We have quite a potent attacking arsenal.”
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Meanwhile, Torres – along with the Rapids’ large Latin contingency – doesn’t speak English, making former coach Oscar Pareja’s January departure perhaps a bumpier one for the Panamanian. Pareja also played a big role in wooing Torres to Colorado, attending a July dinner in Denver to help seal the deal.
However, Torres said he’s enjoyed working with and hasn’t had an issue communicating with Mastroeni so far, who was born in Argentina and speaks Spanish.
“I was calm knowing I have my team and I’m here working with Pablo very well,” Torres said of Pareja’s departure. “[Mastroeni] can speak [Spanish]. The majority of the time we speak in Spanish, and he speaks well.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.