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Deshorn Brown's trade puts Gabriel Torres on the hot seat

BY SHAY AWOSIYAN
College Contributor Network

Colorado Rapids' latest puzzling decision to trade its most lethal finisher has asserted enormous amount of pressure on its first Designated Player, Gabriel Torres.

After days of speculation, Jamaican international Deshorn Brown has packed his bags and taken his talents to Norway to join Vålerenga. Despite being one of the most wasteful forwards in MLS, the 6th overall pick of the 2013 MLS SuperDraft was Colorado's leading scorer the last two seasons. The 24-year-old used his speed and athleticism to catch defenders off-guard and score 20 goals in 62 league appearances.

Now that Brown is gone, the 26-year-old Torres is forced to take the mantle and become the player the Rapids' front office were hoping for when they signed him two years ago. However, filling Brown's shoes might prove to more difficult than it seems.

The Jamaican was MLS' equivalent of Borussia Dortmund's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang; tall, lanky, aware of his environment, skillful, and fast. Both players can play down the middle and on the flanks, they love to be in one-on-one situations and are destructive on counter attacks. As one would expect, the Gabon international is miles ahead of Brown, but with more time and a great coach, the Jamaican could be just as deadly.

The consensus on Torres is that he is also a better soccer player than Brown, but that hasn't been the case since he moved to MLS. The Panamanian international appeared in 30 games in his first two seasons and recorded only six goals and two assists. Torres was rewarded with his lucrative contract after stealing the show at the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup by scoring five goals. At that time, the Rapids expected Torres to be an instant hit, with Technical Director Paul Bravo saying: "he's the right player to help this team win."

Technically, Torres is more gifted than his former teammate. He is calm under pressure, can navigate his way out of trouble with bemusing footwork and when given time and space he can be a lethal finisher. The Panamanian is also more suited to play at the No. 9 position than Brown. He is aware of his surroundings and can play with his back to goal. He isn't the most rugged forward, but he can hold his own against intimidating center backs.

With all that said, Torres has been a disappointment on the pitch. His inability to stay in shape has been responsible in his dip in form and playing time. Colorado's coaches and fans have been very patient with their big-money maker, but now that their only consistent scorer is gone, that patient is about to run out.

Although Colorado has five forwards on its payroll, three are inexperienced and the fourth is an aging facilitator with injury problems. Dominique Badji, Caleb Calvert and Charles Eloundou have a combined five starts in MLS. On his best day Vicente Sanchez, 35, is Colorado's best offensive weapon, but since his arrival in 2013, he's only made 20 starts.

To be more straightforward, the preceding paragraph is stating that Torres has to stop making excuses and start scoring goals, while the Rapids' search for Brown's replacement. Failure to produce would put the Panamanian's stay in the US in jeopardy and basically eliminates Colorado from playoff, even before they play their second game of the season.

Shay Awosiyan is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism at the University of Oklahoma. He played soccer for 13 years and hopes to one day become a commentator. Follow him on Twitter: @THESHAY11
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