Striker Gabriel Torres hasn’t been producing this season, and the Colorado Rapids think they know why.
The Rapids said last weekend that they are temporarily shutting down the 25-year-old Panamanian international to prevent future injury after discovering muscle damage in a recent scan. That means Torres will miss Colorado's upcoming homestand, which includes matches against the Montreal Impact, Houston Dynamo and Chicago Fire, although Torres has been called up for international duty during the same time.
The club and head coach Pablo Mastroeni were vague following their 2-1 defeat to Real Salt Lake in describing the extent of Torres’ injury – or lack thereof. The team described Torres’ issue simply as “significant muscle damage as a result of his efforts over the first few months of the season.”
Either way, Torres is not expected to play again until a June 7 trip to FC Dallas, and Colorado plan on implementing a player-specific training regimen to prevent future injury in the meantime
“It’s the kind of thing that could easily lead to an injury, and rather than risk that, we’d like to take the time to build him back up to full strength,” said Mastroeni. “Gaby is an incredibly important part of this team, a player who is in our plans for this season and years to come.”
Torres arrived in Colorado last summer with plenty of hype, becoming the first Designated Player in club history after penning a four-and-a-half year deal. He showed flashes of his ability in 2013, scoring three goals in seven starts, but things took a noticeable downturn at the start of the 2014 season, one that the club appears to believe is attributed to muscle fatigue.
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“In some muscle screening, we found a lot of propensity for increased muscle damage,” Mastroeni told reporters after the defeat to RSL, a game for which Torres did not travel. “So we feel like it’s a good time before he heads off for Panama to get him on a program and integrate him back into the team slowly, all the while strengthening and working on flexibility and making sure that we’re doing everything we can to prevent that before he rejoins us against Dallas.”
For his part, Torres has not publicly complained or spoken about any injuries and last month attributed his slow start to a lack of chemistry up top. But clearly, something has appeared to be off with the 2013 Gold Cup’s co-leading goalscorer, who has been ineffective and gone scoreless in his eight matches this season (five starts).
“We have to work hard and find that touch back between the midfield and the strikers,” Torres said after the Rapids’ 4-1 loss to Seattle last month. “I think we’ve lost that a bit."
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.