Takeaways: Orlando City shows its ambitions with record signing in Facundo Torres

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Courtesy of Paolo Aguilar/AFP

The long-rumored transfer saga has officially come to a close as Orlando City announced on Monday the signing of 21-year-old Uruguayan forward Facundo Torres from Peñoral in Uruguay. At a club-record transfer fee of $7.5 million, Torres will join the Lions as a Young Designated Player on a four-year contract through 2025, with an option year for 2026.

Torres should join the team sometime in early February after his stint with the Uruguayan national team concludes, following their second World Cup qualifying match of this window on Feb. 1.

Here are some quick-hit takeaways from signing:

  • One of the most impactful signings in club history, Torres will join Oscar Pareja‘s lineup with immediate exceptions of elevating the Lions into an unquestionable MLS Cup contender this season. Torres can play in any space on the field across the front line, but is primarily known as a left-winger, likely taking over the huge hole on that side of the field, which was vacated this offseason by the Lions’ captain, Nani, who left the club after three season. Despite his skill, however, we are talking about a young adult (again, he’s just 21, that’s practically a kid) moving to a brand new league in a brand new county, so taking some time to adjust to a drastically different lifestyle could slow his acclimation on the field. So adjust your expectations accordingly.
  • Torres is hardly one of the first highly-touted South American prospects to land in MLS over the past few seasons. Among the influx of stars from the continent that MLS clubs have been acquiring lately include former Peñoral/LAFC star and fellow Uruguayan Diego Rossi. That’s not to say the Lions are guarenteed to have another Golden Boot winner on their hands in Torres (although that’s certainly the hope), but the Lions have seen their share of South American misses over the years — I must regretably mention the once-promising DP signing in Josué Colmán.
  • As of this signing weren’t enough, which if we’re being honest the Lions do need more than just Torres to be a side competiting for a top see in the Eastern Conference this season, Orlando is also reportedly close to signing Rapid Vienna striker Ercan Kara as a DP. The 6-foot-4 forward could be an invaluable teammate for Torres, who picked up 8 assists in 33 games all competitions this past season, on top of the limitless opportunities to connect with fellow Uruguayan Mauricio Pereyra in the middle of the park. If the Lions do indeed get that deal across the line, the thought of Torres, Kara, and Silvester van der Water on the right side operating in concert ahead of Pereyra, well…. that’s nightmare fuel for opposing defenses.
  • Five years ago, a $7.5 million price tag on a player would have been eye-popping by MLS transfer market standards, but while it hardly stands out among the rest anymore it’s still a monsterous signing to anyone around Orlando City. The Wilf family has shown clear intent to invest and spend when necesary this offseason, as evident by not only the Torres signing, but by also dropping reportedly $2 million on César Araújo as well, and though we don’t know what it would cost to bring in Kara, his TransferMarkt value is estimated at over $3 million. We know good and well by now that money doesn’t buy success in MLS as much as good coaching and comprehensive scouting do, two things that Orlando have proven to posses so far under Pareja, Luiz Muzzi and Ricardo Moreira. The players they’ve brought in so far — Pedro Gallese, Junior Urso, van der Water, Rodrigo Schlegel, Antonio Carlos — prove that; now, time will tell how adding more money into that mix works out.
  • The money spent by the club this season is already enough to blow away the combined sum of money spent on transfers in the six years prior, as you may have seen noted on Twitter as a sign of the Wilfs vs. Flavio Augusto da Silva. While that may be true, it’s an apples to oranges comparison between two ownership groups with vastly different resources of wealth to pull from, but also neglects to note Flavio’s many investments in high-priced DPs like Kaka (once the highest-paid player in league history for a time) and Nani (his salary also ranged between $2-3 million annually), the $60 million expansion fee to get the club into MLS, and, most notably, he helped foot much of the bill on Orlando’s privately-financed $155 million stadium. Not cheap.

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