You could sum up Gabriel Torres' season to date in a three-second span near the end of the Colorado Rapids’ 4-1 loss to the Seattle Sounders on Saturday afternoon, with one simple slip and fall and another empty slot on the scoresheet.
It’s only been seven games, but Torres’ struggles are an early concern for the Rapids. He’s recorded only one shot on goal in 331 minutes of action this season (a weak dribbler in the first half of Saturday’s loss), and he’s struggled to get involved in the attack, disappearing for large stretches of play when he does play, including Saturday’s humbling loss at CenturyLink Field.
“I think today up front our problems were that we didn’t possess the ball as well as we should have,” Torres said on Saturday. “I think in the second half we started to get more involved, but by that time they’d already scored three goals. Today as a team, we all committed errors, up front and in the back. We have to get better, and we’ll try and learn our lessons for the next game.”
Colorado head coach Pablo Mastroeni frequently speaks of the Rapids as a team without a star, and a unified squad where the lineup varies and the full roster has equal expectations. But Torres – the Rapids’ first Designated Player in franchise history acquired in a highly publicized transfer from Venezuelan side Zamora FC last summer – comes with higher expectations.
After showing spurts over his first seven games with the club last year, the Panamanian international has taken a step back in early 2014, looking far from the player who tied for the lead in CONCACAF Gold Cup scoring just nine months ago.
Asked after Saturday’s game if he felt Torres was suffering from a lack of confidence, Mastroeni evaded the question without necessarily backing his star player up: “That’s a great question for Gaby Torres.”
Torres could be struggling from a lack of consistency more than anything else. Asked to play in more of a midfield role in the Rapids’ season-opening 1-1 draw against the New York Red Bulls and alternating between the bench and the starting lineup (he’s started four of the first seven games of the season), Torres could be simply be struggling to adjust to his new team and the more physical MLS, in which he’s only played 14 games.
But with only one goal from the striker position all season, the Rapids unquestionably need more production from their forwards, starting with Torres.
“We have to work hard and find that touch back between the midfield and the strikers, I think we’ve lost that a bit,” Torres said. “The last [home] game [a scoreless draw against the Earthquakes], our team had some chances to score, so we can build off that and get better.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.