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Orlando City Signs Uruguayan Forward Facundo Torres

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Lions add their second young Uruguayan player ahead of the 2022 MLS season.

Sporting Cristial v Peñarol - Copa CONMEBOL Sudamericana 2021 Photo by Paolo Aguilar - Pool/Getty Images

After weeks of reports linking Orlando City to Peñarol forward Facundo Torres, the transfer is complete and official. The Lions signed the 21-year-old Uruguayan today as Luiz Muzzi and Oscar Pareja rebuild the squad’s attack following the departures of Nani, Daryl Dike, and Chris Mueller. Torres will be a Young Designated Player and occupy one of Orlando’s three DP slots. He is on a four-year contract through 2025, with a club option for the 2026 season. He will join the Lions after the international window pending receipt of his P-1 Visa and International Transfer Certificate.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, however, multiple South American outlets have long reported a pricetag of $10 million plus a $2 million signing bonus for 70% of Torres’ rights (meaning if Orlando City sells him on, Peñarol would receive 30% of the fee). The Orlando Sentinel reported Friday that the cost was “only” $7.5 million, which is still an OCSC club record transfer fee, plus $1.5 million in bonuses for 100% of Torres’ rights. But, curiously, the Sentinel also reported that Penarol would receive a bonus for any future sale, which hardly sounds like “100%” of the player’s rights, although that may just be a matter of semantics.

“We’re thrilled to have Facundo join us at Orlando City. He is an exciting player with a bright future,” said Orlando City SC Chairman Mark Wilf in a club press release. “We will continue to work with our technical team to bolster the roster and build a championship-caliber team for our club and community.”

“Facundo is a young player with a lot of potential and upside, and he is just beginning to make waves on the international stage,” said Orlando City General Manager and Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi said in the club’s release. “The danger that he creates on attack will be a real asset on the offensive end and we’re excited for him to step on the field in purple.”

The Las Piedras, Uruguay native is primarily a left wing player, meaning he can slot in for Nani’s vacated spot on the field, but he can also play on the right wing as an inverted winger (he’s left-footed).

Torres became a professional player in 2020 with Peñarol in Uruguay’s top flight, scoring on his debut just five minutes after his 46th-minute introduction on Aug. 16, 2020 against Boston River. In 71 appearances across all competitions with Peñarol, Torres has scored 16 goals and added 15 assists. He scored in the championship match to help Peñarol win the 2021 Liga Profesional de Primera División title.

At the international level, Torres has appeared with Uruguay at the U-15, U-17, U-20, and senior national team levels. He debuted for the senior team in June of 2021 and already has 10 caps.

What It Means for Orlando City

Orlando City didn’t spend this kind of cash to have Torres come to the City Beautiful and sit on the bench. Torres will be expected to contribute immediately despite his youth. That said, it would be foolish to assume he will instantly provide the offense that Nani contributed during his three years in Orlando. Torres has massive potential but still averaged 357 minutes between goals with Peñarol. However, he’ll be entering his prime as a player and should do well with the Lions. He’ll add quickness and energy to the Orlando attack, along with considerable skill on the ball.

The makeup of the Lions is shifting. The Lions have been a team with a balance of older veterans and young players in the past, but there is an obvious shift to younger players this season with the additions of Torres and his fellow Uruguayan César Araújo, who signed last Friday. Both youngsters will have a mentor they can learn from in their countryman Mauricio Pereyra.

Torres will require an international slot and his signing will leave Orlando with two Designated Player slots to work with. One of those may continue to be occupied by midfielder Mauricio Pereyra, while another could be held for the rumored signing of Austrian forward Ercan Kara.

This signing is not without risk. While Torres’ upside is extremely high, young players from abroad have not always acclimated well to the culture change and rigorous travel demands of MLS. His potential is much greater than former Orlando City Young Designated Player Josué Colmán, but the latter player stands alongside Carlos Rivas as examples of how things don’t always work out. The hope is obviously that Pareja can help Torres reach his considerable potential and that the close-knit roster Orlando has built can provide the support system he needs to settle comfortably into life in a new country. Having other Uruguayans on the team will help as well.

What this move also means is that the Wilf family will not be shy about spending to improve the squad. The new owners have only been in place for a few months and already they’ve set a new club record with the signing of Torres.

Here is a look at what Torres can do: