SAFC Offseason Report 2: Year of Lion, is 2022 Leo Torres’ break out year

2022 is the Year of the Tiger according the Chinese calendar but for SAFC 2022 could be the year of the Lion. Leo Torres, midfielder for San Antonio FC has been a highly touted prospect since his time at youth levels. Leo had signed a multi year contract and is coming back to SAFC for the 2022 season. Leo was one the original 26 players selected for the newly found SAFC pro academy in 2016. In February of 2019, Leo Torres signed his first professional contract at just the age of 15, just 23 days after his birthday. At the time of his signing, Leo was the youngest player to sign a USL professional contract. Leo finally made his debut in 2020 and made an impact while on loan with the Real Monarchs during the 2021 season, showing what he is capable of in the future.

Torres (right) could have a breakout year similar to Gallegos. Photo from SanAntonioFC.com

Leo Torres’ is from Devine which is located between San Antonio and Pearsall and dreamed of playing like Leo Messi, his hero. Nick Evans SAFC Pro Academy Director told mysanantonio.com’s Terrance Thomas in 2019 “He was definitely different in terms of the quality he had. Leo has a lot of talent. That talent has allowed him to be successful. His ability to influence games has really been impactful.”

Efrain Alvarez, who now plays in MLS side Los Angeles Galaxy and the Mexican National Team had a similar path to Leo Torres. Both Alvarez and Torres are both attacking midfielders. Alvarez also signed at the age of 15 with LA Galaxy II, had success at the USL level. Alvarez has four appearances for El Tri and played in the Gold Cup. Torres has made five appearances for the USMNT U-15 in 2019.

In 2021, Leo Torres made 13 overall appearances between San Antonio FC and Real Monarchs, made four starts at the age of 17. Torres’ break out match was against the Austin Bold on October 16th, Leo scored a brace in the first 35 minutes of a 4-3 victory. Torres showed in that game how much of a threat he can be to opposing teams. Both of Torres’ goal were from outside the box. Leo was able to juke and fool the defender and his rocket shot found the upper 90 for his first goal and for his second, his shot went past the diving Bold goalkeeper. Check out his highlights below.

While the 2021 season provided a small sample size of Torres’ abilities, he could be ready to make a jump in minutes and impact in 2022. We saw a jump from 2020 in offensive output in Jose Gallegos who scored seven goals in 2021. Leo Torres will have the coaching of Alen Marcina and players like Santiago Patino, who also played Darren Powell while he was at Orlando City SC academy to help Torres develop to the next level.

Leo has the ability to dribble and make defenders stumble over themselves and has the power to score long distance accurate shots that find the back of the net. Torres in 367 minutes played took 10 shots, four shots on target with two goals, won 35 percent of duels and won 30 percent of aerial duels.

Leo Torres went on loan to Real Monarchs.

As we see the 2022 roster take shape, Leo could find himself as a fringe starter or a sub getting high amounts of minutes. We’ll have to see how Alen Marcina fits Torres into the starting XI. But Torres should be making at least some spot starts next season. As he continues to mature and strengthen, those spots starts could convert to seeing Torres as a regular in the starting XI. Like Efrain Alvarez, Cristian Parano and Diego Luna for El Paso, Leo could be the next player under 20 to wreck havoc on defenses around the USL. It will be exciting to see Torres get minutes and make an impact for SAFC in 2022 and possibly beyond. Remember the name….

For more mysanantonio.com article by Terrance Thomas on Leo Torres signing:

Link: https://www.mysanantonio.com/sports/soccer/article/Leo-Torres-signs-with-SAFC-youngest-player-ever-13617548.php

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