CLEVELAND, Ohio.- Panama captain Roman Torres is no stranger to the bright lights of the Concacaf Gold Cup. He first suited up for his country in the continental championship in 2005.
Since then, he’s missed just one edition of the tournament, a decision that was made in 2017 to focus on the Concacaf Hexagonal and qualifying for World Cup 2018 in Russia. This decision in hindsight certainly seems like the correct one, Panama ultimately qualifying for their first ever World Cup, with a spectacular winning goal on the final day of qualifying from none other than Torres.
Now here in 2019, Torres is back at the Gold Cup, and he and his Panama side look poised to make another run to the deep stages of the competition.
By playing and captaining Panama to a 2-0 win in the Group D opener against Trinidad and Tobago in Saint Paul, Minnesota on Tuesday night, Torres equaled the all-time record for Gold Cups played, tying fellow Panamanian Gabriel Gomez, who retired from national team duty following the 2018 World Cup.
The seventh Gold Cup for Torres puts him above a host of players who had played in six, including Guatemala’s Carlos Ruiz and the United States’s Landon Donovan, two of the great names in the history of the region.
When asked about the achievement of his captain, Panama Head Coach Julio Valdes had an interesting take.
“I guess seven is an impressive number,” said Dely Valdes. “But for me, the more impressive number is two. That’s the amount of Gold Cup Finals he’s reached. Now we want to make it three. In my opinion, that would be the most impressive number of all, to have made it to three finals in seven attempts.”
Panama’s next match is against Guyana in Cleveland on Saturday.