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LAFC 2020 player postmortem: Christian Torres

Academy product showing real signs of promise.

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Seattle Sounders FC Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

When Christian Torres was signed in 2020 to LAFC’s first team, what were the realistic expectations for him?

For me, as someone on the outside who had seen 16-year-olds get signed to MLS deals while covering the league, I didn’t really expect him to play at all. Bob Bradley had shown to date with LAFC a relatively set group of players in his lineup, and there was usually a group of deep bench guys who got only a few minutes or no time. Plus, with LAFC’s stacked forward corps, I wasn’t sure he’d even make his professional debut.

But contrary to those expectations, the youngster not only played, he played a good number of minutes in a short span of time. And he not only played some real minutes, he scored a competitive goal. And it was a fateful goal to help LAFC grab a draw on the road in the last minute.

Here are Torres’ stats with LAFC in 2020:

Christian Torres 2020 LAFC Statistics

2020 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
2020 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
Regular Season 8 2 212 1 0 3 1 1 0
MiB Knockouts 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Playoffs 1 1 55 0 0 2 0 0 0
CCL 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 9 3 267 1 0 5 1 1 0

As we saw, the vaunted LAFC forward ranks thinned out in the local return to play, with the relentless pace of games meaning Carlos Vela, Diego Rossi, Brian Rodriguez, and Danny Musovski all missed multiple games each down the stretch, and that gave Torres an opportunity.

Torres was tasked with doing much of the unglamorous but important work — pressing the opposing goalkeeper and defenders, putting in the work on defense, making runs to tire out the other side — and he did a good job in these respects. He wasn’t expected to be banging in a bunch of goals but he still made a clear and notable impact while he was on the field.

And then that goal. His tying strike against the Portland Timbers in mid-October wasn’t just a timely goal to help LAFC pick up a point in a game that looked destined for a draw, it was a legitimately fantastic finish.

So all in all, Torres overperformed considering his age and the expectations for him. His counterpart Homegrowns out of the LAFC academy either didn’t get on the field for the first team or played just a few minutes, and while Torres didn’t have a huge run, I think it was a very promising start to a pro career.

He’s also a player who was substantially more poised when he spoke to the press than most of his peers. That obviously has little to do with one’s performance on the field, but I can sense an uncommon maturity just by talking to him. There was a moment during the season, when he admitted he had some trouble keeping up with his schoolwork while he was trying to get acclimated to the demands of a professional career, and it was incredibly revealing. Many players in that situation would either not care about school now that they were professional athletes, or they would not volunteer a vulnerability like that. I think it was also a great reminder to the rest of us that yeah, being a 16-year-old pro athlete isn’t easy. We all marvel briefly when a youngster is signed with a stock phrase like, “What were you doing at 16?” but to actually think about how tough it is to juggle a career while you’re still a kid, it has to be a challenge.

We’ll see what the future holds, but I think Torres has a lot of promise and I think he could have a high ceiling. The sample size is still pretty low, but if he continues to grow and develop, then this could be a special player who we got to watch at the beginning.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.