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A Philadelphia Union blog hosted by Christopher A. Vito and Matthew De George

Monday, July 16, 2012


(Associated Press)
He walked out of the locker room Saturday night, smiling as widely as any 21-year-old on his birthday. Of course, Roger Torres would have been happier had he actually contributed to the Union’s 2-1 victory.

“I just want to play,” Torres told me.

The crafty Colombian has gotten onto the pitch for a grand total of seven minutes since sustaining a knee injury in April that required surgery.

Torres says he’s healthy, calling his afflicted left knee “great.” But the 5-5 midfielder might have a difficult time cracking the Union’s lineup, and for more reasons than their 4-2-0 record in their last six matches, under interim manager John Hackworth.

The reality is that, while Torres was away, the Union found someone else to play. No longer the go-to reserve to spark their offense off the bench, Torres has relinquished that job to Antoine Hoppenot — pictured, the 50th pick in the MLS supplemental draft and the most-unlikely contributor to the Union’s attack.

A 21-year-old Princeton product, Hoppenot made two appearances for 26 minutes under ex-Union boss Peter Nowak. Under Hackworth, he’s been involved in the last six league matches and tallied two goals in 159 minutes.

“I’m so proud for (Hoppenot),” Torres said of the 5-8 striker. “I just joked with him, that he’s like me last year. That’s what I say to him before he go in today. He’s doing well, too, for the team. I just say congratulations to him for everything he do in this moment.”

Hackworth, who’s been singing Hoppenot’s praises for quite some time, echoed that sentiment.

“Right now it’s fantastic, but I think there’s a lot of pieces that go into that too. And while Antoine is coming off the bench and playing a pivotal role, there’s a lot of other guys that are connected to that and doing a great job,” Hackworth said.

So where does that leave Torres? Well, he says he expects to play a bunch Wednesday in a friendly against English Premier League side Aston Villa. Beyond that, he might be relegated to bench duty and reserve-league minutes … until he’s called upon in a pinch.

“It’s difficult because everybody is going in a good way, so it’s hard but it’s nice,” Torres said. “When everyone is doing well, I’m so happy for that. I just keep working hard and the opportunity, Wednesday, is a good game for some minutes. I’m going to try to enjoy that moment and just wait for my opportunity. I know when I go on the field, I will do everything I can to win.”

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think its Hoppenot that is stealing minutes from Torres, since they are very different players that play different positions... Torres is loosing time to Gomez who has come on late and to a lesser degree Lahoud and Daniel... Torres is a much different style midfielder who could be an important piece of the puzzle to solve our possession/lack of vision in the midfield. I'd like to see us work towards the following (to gain much better distribution with Gomez, Torres, Okugo, and Soumare as our core):

July 16, 2012 at 9:10 PM 

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