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
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
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
“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
Labels: Antoine Hoppenot, Aston Villa, John Hackworth, Peter Nowak, Roger Torres