Facundo Torres on Lionel Messi’s MLS move: “Playing against the best player in the world is something special”
The Orlando City forward spoke exclusively to AS USA about his friendship with Luis Suárez and the team’s MLS Cup ambitions.
As Orlando City prepare for their MLS Cup Playoffs opener against Nashville, AS USA caught up with Facundo Torres.
The 23-year-old Uruguayan forward enjoyed a prolific regular season campaign, registering 14 goals and three assists. Orlando finished second to Supporters’ Shield winners FC Cincinnati in the Eastern Conference and have been tipped as genuine contenders for MLS Cup.
Ahead of their opening fixture, AS USA caught up with ‘Facu’ at El Exploria Stadium. The forward spoke about the adaptation process in MLS, his friendship with Luis Suárez and Lionel Messi’s incredible impact in the United States
Facundo Torres: The interview
What was the most difficult part of your adaptation to MLS?
“The rhythm, it was very difficult for me. I came from the Uruguayan league and I was just starting, barely a year in the first division and coming here the pace was a little difficult for me at first. But today, luckily, I’m used to it”
Where do you feel is your best position?
“Well, in the frontline I can be anywhere. Here I have to play on the right, but it is a place where I am very comfortable. I think I feel comfortable anywhere across the attack, but at the moment it’s my turn on the right”
Is Orlando City a candidate to win MLS Cup?
“I think so, we are doing well. We have a very good group, with many young people and a great desire to improve, to achieve things. That hunger for victory is good for a team”
How was your World Cup experience with Uruguay?
“Very good, tremendous. For a player I think that the best thing is playing in the World Cup and living that unique experience. I didn’t get to play, but it was a dream to be there. I will continue working to make it happen again.”
Was it strange to arrive at the Uruguay camp and not find Luis Suárez and Edison Cavani?
“At first it was strange, for me Luis [Suarez] was one of the people who helped me the most when I was in the National Team for the first time. They gave me a lot of advice.
“Those people set an example and, although it feels a little strange that they are no longer there, we try to reflect what they taught this new generation.”
What is Uruguay head coach Marcelo Bielsa like to work with?
“It’s incredible how hard he works, he’s watching our videos all the time, those of the rival. It has improved me a lot.
“I was a player who really liked the ball at my feet and with Marcelo you learn how to make the opportunity to go into space, things that I didn’t do. Today I have been changing my game and it has helped me a lot.”
You came up against Lionel Messi in the Leagues Cup, what is it like playing against him?
“I had already played against him with the national team as well and when you are there you are just trying to win. But he is the best in the world and someone I have admired since I was a kid. You have to concentrate on the game, but playing against the best player in the world is something unique.”
What has Messi given to MLS since his arrival?
“A lot, you can see how the league is perceived today by people. He is the right person to take this league to the next level. You can see the enormous change that has been achieved.”
Did you change jerseys with Messi?
“I have the one from the Argentina game. But we lost against Inter Miami when we played against them, when you lose you just want to leave the field quickly. The Argentina vs Uruguay game was a draw, so I had the chance there.”
Luis Suárez is reportedly close to a move to Miami, would you like that?
“Yes, he’s another soccer beast and more good players coming to the league is good. A beast like Luis could do a lot in MLS.”
Where do you dream of playing?
“In Europe. I always said it since I came here. This is a club that I love, that has helped me a lot, but my goal is to continue growing. I hope it can happen.”
Which league do you like?
“The Italian league, the English league, the Spanish league, all those leagues are very good. Those three are the best, but I will go wherever is best for me and my growth.”
Fede Valverde has become a top player, have you been impressed with his progress?
“Yes, when you see him in person you say ‘No wonder he plays in the elite of football’.
“I I am very happy about his growth. I have known him since I was little with Peñarol and today, seeing how he plays, I’m very happy that a Uruguayan is doing well.”
Do you have a message for the people of Uruguay?
“Thank you very much, you are always supporting me a lot. The club always tells me that when they upload a photo the people of Uruguay are always there supporting me, always words of gratitude for all the support. I hope we can continue performing.”