Prior to Saturday’s crucial game against Toronto FC, Orlando City coach Oscar Pareja was pondering whether or not to play Facundo Torres.
On Friday, Orlando’s star Designated Player this season was dealt a blow at the national team level after Uruguay coach Diego Alonso omitted Torres from the Celeste’s recent call-ups for the upcoming FIFA window.
A move that left Torres stunned and disappointed – Pareja backed his player, opting to play him and giving him the opportunity to respond to the roster snub after his goal in the ninth minute steered the Lions towards a 4-0 victory over Toronto on Sunday.
“Yesterday was a tough day, I was amazed at how he overcame tonight,” Pareja said on Torres’ performance. “I saw him so sad yesterday when they named the national team and at some moment I thought about playing him today or not because he was very sad, but he came up today with those eyes open and willing to come and do it again. We felt confident and early in the game he showed it.”
“I hope that Alonso who is such a great coach and I understand the challenges, but I still have faith and hope that Facundo can be in Qatar, because he deserves it,” added Pareja. “But we respect the coaches and he knows that he will keep pushing, the World Cup is not played yet, it’s still there.”
Torres’ goal on Saturday was his seventh in league play and 11th across all competitions.
When asked if his goal celebration was a response to being left out of the Uruguay national team, Torres reiterated the importance of continuing his run of form.
“There there wasn’t a message there, it’s just continuing to show the level that I’ve been playing and continue to show the level that I need to to get myself back into the national team,” said Torres. “We had a couple of losses, one at home after winning the Open Cup, so we knew that it was something where we had to take a win today. It was absolutely necessary.”
Kara hits double digits
Another Designated Player on the scoresheet on Saturday was Ercan Kara, who’s goal in the 22nd minute was his 10th of the season.
Kara acknowledged that his first season with the Lions has come with challenges, but despite hitting double-digit goals, he isn’t satisfied with his current goal count.
“I think it’s okay. It’s a season where I scored the least amount of goals. I never scored 10 goals, I always scored more,” Kara told reporters. “But this happens, it’s a different country for me. It’s a different life for me, it’s not easy, but I adapted well with my family and my wife and I’m happy here.”