After sleepwalking through the first half of the season, Seattle stormed into the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs with a scintillating stretch run that took them all the way to their first-ever MLS title – and Torres played a key role with a similar trajectory in personal terms, returning from a serious knee injury in August to shore up the Sounders defense.
Torres' return after a year on the sidelines, combined with the arrival of playmaker Nicolas Lodeiro and the influence of new head coach Brian Schmetzer, sparked a slumping side. Seattle reeled off an 8-1-3 record in games in which the imposing Panama international started, and he enshrined himself in club history by blasting home the winning spot kick in the PK shootout that decided MLS Cup after Toronto FC and the Sounders played 120 scoreless minutes at BMO Field on Dec. 10.
Torres won 53 percent of ballots cast in the final round of Latino del Año voting, surpassing NYCFC's Costa Rican fullback Ronald Matarrita (36%), Mexican star Giovani dos Santos of the LA Galaxy (10%) and Montreal's talented Argentine Ignacio Piatti (2%). Torres also received the most votes throughout the week when all rounds of the competition (round of 16, quarterfinals and grand finale) are counted.
Torres is the first Panamanian to be recognized with this award, though he's the fifth consecutive Central American to be so recognized, and the third such Sounder, after Fredy Montero (2010) and Marco Pappa (2014).
Created in 2010, Latino del Año is FutbolMLS.com's annual poll to choose the league's top Hispanic player, based on a popular vote among fans. Latino del Año is not an official MLS award, but a recognition given by FutbolMLS.com readers.
Latino del Año Winners
2016 – ROMAN TORRES (Seattle Sounders FC | Panama)
2015 – Darwin Ceren (Orlando City SC | El Salvador)
2014 – Marco Pappa (Seattle Sounders FC | Guatemala)
2013 – Alvaro Saborio (Real Salt Lake | Costa Rica)
2012 – Oscar Boniek Garcia (Houston Dynamo | Honduras)
2011 – Omar Bravo (Sporting Kansas City | Mexico)
2010 – Fredy Montero (Seattle Sounders FC | Colombia)