Facundo Torres delivers when it matters most

Sep 17, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA;  Orlando City forward Facundo Torres (17) celebrates after
Sep 17, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA; Orlando City forward Facundo Torres (17) celebrates after / Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Facundo Torres is having an incredibly special season in the City Beautiful, and one that isn't be talked about nearly enough on the national level.

Torres finished his season with nine goals and ten assists in MLS play and added a further three goals and two assists in the Lions' US Open Cup triumph -- setting a club-record for single-season goal involvements.

His 19 goal involvements in league play are tied for the most among any first-year MLS player with the Philadelphia Union's Mikael Uhre, yet Torres is seemingly getting little to no hype for the league's Newcomer of the Year award.

Alas, Torres's impact is felt deep in the club and showing itself in the biggest moments of Orlando City's season.

With the season on the line, Orlando City earned a massive penalty kick to potentially take the lead on the Columbus Crew and get back above the playoff line for the third-consecutive season. Amidst the chaos of a VAR review and protestations from Columbus players, Torres confidently took to the penalty spot.

At all of 22-years-old, the Uruguayan put the team on his shoulders in the biggest moment of the year. And then he delivered.

Torres his an absolute rocket of a spot kick that Crew goalkeeper Eloy Room had zero chance of stopping. This wasn't the first time Torres put the Lions on his shoulders and carried the team in a big moment.

In the stretch run of the season, including the US Open Cup run, Torres was unplayable. He produced at a truly elite clip and looked like the best player on the pitch almost every time out. He's had his fair share of inconsistent performances across the full campaign, but in the big moments, the Uruguayan talisman has delivered.

It further cements "El Cuervo" as a worthy successor the the No. 17 previously donned by club captain Nani. The Portuguese mega star also made a living in the big moments, most famously the MLS is Back tournament in 2020. When the Lions needed big plays, it was often Nani who delivered.

Now that player is Torres, but unlike Nani, Torres has the energy and legs to make these contributions throughout an entire season. Nani struggled to produce throughout an entire MLS season and was a non-factor in both of his playoff runs.

Torres, 13 years younger than Nani, is still brining his spark every time he touches the field, and this weekend he gets his first chance to do it in the MLS Cup Playoffs. To succeed his excellent predecessor, a strong playoff performance would go a long way.