Last week, MLSSoccer.com's Joe Lowery and Andrew Weibe drew the ire of the Orlando City faithful when they insinuated that Facundo Torres was an early season disappointment and was under pressure to start performing. To their credit, they did add that it's way too early to make any judgements on Torres and he could easily start to perform any game, but then why criticize the 21-year-old winger?
With that manufactured scrutiny most likely not on his mind, Torres went out and had his best game of his young MLS career against FC Cincinnati, assisting Orlando's goal and finishing with five key passes. Oscar Pareja was asked about Torres and if getting his first assists takes some pressure off of him, and Pareja essentially said there's no pressure and Torres is fine. Even before a really good night against Cincinnati, I would've said the exact same thing.
Through three weeks, Facundo Torres has been my favorite player to watch for Orlando City (actually, maybe second favorite behind César Araújo). A part of that is due to his reputation and price tag, but just watching him out on the field has been exciting. He's technically strong and clearly creative. Every time he gets the ball in the final third, I get out of my seat, knowing something special might be coming.
Even though the actual end product is still inconsistent, Torres has been dynamic for the Lions and consistently gets himself into dangerous areas. I don't think he's been particularly wasteful with the ball, even though he does have a lot of turnovers, and if he wasn't being fouled relentlessly, he'd probably be performing even better.
The idea that Torres wasn't doing enough is just silly to me. He's been among Orlando's best players all season so far and is just margins away from being excellent. To single out a young player who's new to the league for being close to great but not quite there is odd to me. And after what we saw against Cincinnati, it got even odder.
Facundo Torres is a special talent and could end up being one of the best players in Orlando City history. He's not perfect yet, but he has the skill and dynamism to tear up MLS, and we've already seen dozens of glimpses of that potential. If we're smart, we won't start to judge his actual end product till around match day 10, and I'd bet by that point he's among the better wingers in all of MLS.