Orlando City made Uruguayan winger Facundo Torres out of Penarol the team’s record signing back on Jan. 24, inking him to a long-term contract and giving him the Young Designated Player tag. Although a transfer fee of $10 million had been widely reported in the South American media, The Orlando Sentinel reported that the cost was “only” $7.5 million, which is still an OCSC club record transfer fee, plus the Lions were on the hook for $1.5 million in bonuses for 100% of Torres’ rights.
Just 21 at the time of his signing, El Cuervo arrived with a lot of expectations as he was essentially slotting in for former team captain Nani, who departed after the 2021 MLS season. Early on, Torres took a little while to find his footing, which is not unexpected, but once he started getting comfortable, he became one of the more dangerous players Orlando City has ever had.
Let’s take a look back at Torres’ first season with the Lions.
Starting with the club’s U.S. Open Cup campaign, Torres played in all six of the Lions’ matches en route to the trophy (five starts), logging 498 minutes. That includes all 120 minutes against Nashville and 119 of the 120 minutes against Inter Miami. He scored four goals and added two assists in the competition, including figuring in all three of the team’s goals in the championship match against Sacramento Republic FC. He also scored the winning penalty in the shootout against Nashville SC. Torres attempted 16 shots, getting eight on target in the tournament. He completed 84.2% of his 284 pass attempts, with 16 key passes and 13 accurate long balls. He recorded four interceptions, committed two fouls while drawing 10, and was not booked.
In the regular season, Torres appeared in 33 of the team’s 34 games (29 starts), amassing 2,600 minutes. He scored nine goals and added 10 assists on the season — placing second on the team in those categories to Ercan Kara (11) and Mauricio Pereyra (11), respectively. However, it should be mentioned that Torres tied Pereyra for the team lead in primary assists, with eight. Torres fired 53 shot attempts this season, putting 14 on target — so he was accurate with his on-target shots (64.3%), but only put 26.4% of his total attempts on frame. He completed 83.3% of his 1,187 passes and finished with 36 key passes and 29 accurate long balls. Defensively, he logged 36 tackles, 12 interceptions, 10 clearances, and three blocks. He committed only 12 fouls all season while drawing an incredible 65 on the opposition, picking up only one yellow card.
Torres also started in Orlando City’s lone playoff match, playing all 90 minutes. He did not have a goal contribution and attempted only one off-target shot. Despite passing at a 94.6% rate on 37 attempts, Torres had just one accurate long ball and did not register a key pass. He contributed one tackle and one interception, drew one foul without committing one, and was not booked.
I’m going to go with Torres’ standout display in Orlando City’s 3-0 U.S. Open Cup final victory over Sacramento Republic on Sept. 7 for his best match. He was a major factor in the win, scoring two of Orlando’s three goals and setting up the third. After a scoreless first half, in which Torres was active but saw some shot attempts blocked, he got the party started in the 75th minute. Ivan Angulo dispossessed Dan Casey and Benji Michel picked it up and laid off for the charging Torres to smash into the upper left corner to open the scoring.
FACUNDO TORRES!!— Major League Soccer (@MLS) September 8, 2022
Perfect placement to give @OrlandoCitySC the lead in the final. #USOC2022 pic.twitter.com/UIxLM5K0QO
Minutes later, Torres doubled the lead. Michel drew a foul in the area and El Cuervo stepped up to the spot and buried the kick to make it 2-0.
And now it's ✌️@OrlandoCitySC city double the lead over @SacRepublicFC through Facundo Torres again -- this time from the spot.— U.S. Open Cup (@opencup) September 8, 2022
2-0 | #USOC2022 pic.twitter.com/ZCVai262eG
The Uruguayan came within inches of a hat trick two minutes after scoring from the spot but his shot sizzled just wide of the post. Nevertheless, his contributions weren’t done for the night. Following a Sacramento turnover, Torres threaded a perfect pass through the defense to Michel, who put the exclamation point on the match in stoppage time. The finish was great, but just check out this peach of a pass:
Ice ❄️ Cold— U.S. Open Cup (@opencup) September 8, 2022
Hometown Hero @AlmightBenji sealed the deal for @OrlandoCitySC -- who win their first Open Cup.
3-0 | #USOC2022 pic.twitter.com/p200Q7RlUw
In addition to his two goals and assist, Torres fired six shots toward goal and got two on frame. His six shots were a season high in all competitions. He completed 83% of his 47 passes, including three key passes and two successful long balls. He drew three free kicks from Sacramento while only fouling once and was not booked. It was a tour de force performance by the Uruguayan on the season’s biggest stage.
2022 Final Grade
The Mane Land staff gives Torres a composite rating of 8 out of 10 for his 2022 campaign. This is a high grade, which could have been even higher. Torres showed an overreliance at times on his left foot — not quite to the degree that former Lion Silvester van der Water did, but it was close to that level in some games. Of course, all players favor their stronger foot but for Torres to truly reach his potential, he’ll have to grow in confidence and quality with his weaker foot. There was also a period from May 7 to June 15 in which Torres went five games without a goal contribution and only attempted four shots, getting two on frame. He had a four-game drought a bit later in the season in which he did not register a shot on target (despite attempting five shots at Philadelphia). All young players go through these kinds of peaks and valleys, so it’s not a knock on his play as much as an explanation on how close he was to earning an even higher rating for 2022.
We expect Torres to return for 2023, but that is really not up to Orlando City — at least not entirely. Arsenal is just one of the teams reportedly interested in securing Torres’ services. If Europe comes calling, Orlando City’s front office can hardly keep him from going, but it will be imperative to receive the best possible return for the club’s record signing. If Torres does move on, it will be bittersweet, as he was just starting to scratch the surface of his considerable talent. But it will speak well of OCSC as a place that can develop talent for bigger leagues in Europe, which can only help with recruiting more top players from South America. Should Torres return and play all of 2023 with Orlando, we would expect him to be able to contribute double-digit goal and assist totals as the 22-year-old continues to grow his game.
Previous Season in Review Articles (Date Posted)
- Jack Lynn (10/21/22)
- Joey DeZart (10/22/22)
- Nicholas Gioacchini (10/24/22)
- Thomas Williams (10/24/22)
- Michael Halliday (10/26/22)
- Tesho Akindele (10/28/22)
- Mason Stajduhar (10/29/22)
- Ivan Angulo (10/30/22)
- Jake Mulraney (10/31/22)
- Andrés Perea (11/1/22)
- Kyle Smith (11/2/22)
- Wilder Cartagena (11/3/22)
- Benji Michel (11/4/22)
- Alexandre Pato (11/5/22)
- Ruan (11/6/22)
- Rodrigo Schlegel (11/7/22)
- Cesar Araujo (11/8/22)
- Robin Jansson (11/9/22)
- Antonio Carlos (11/9/22)
- Junior Urso (11/10/22)
- Pedro Gallese (11/11/22)
- Joao Moutinho (11/13/22)
- Mauricio Pereyra (11/14/22)
- Ercan Kara (11/15/22)
This concludes our 2022 Orlando City Season in Review series of player ratings. We hope you’ve enjoyed this look back at each of the Lions who completed the season with the club and played in at least one MLS/U.S. Open Cup match.