The Year of El Gato

FC Dallas' Mario Torres carries the hopes of Latino soccer fans. But is he the future--or just a cynical marketing ploy?

True, Garcia doesn't speak for everyone, a fact of which Torres is well aware. "There's a lot of Latinos that think the MLS is crap, that think there are better players on these local teams than there are in the MLS," he admits. "I'd tell them, 'Come see him in practice. Get on the field and try to do what he does. You can't.'"

Torres is confident, however, that he can. "I know I'm going to be there," he says with absolute conviction. "I'll be the best on the team and the best in the league." If he does successfully marry the English-style soccer of MLS and the flashy individual skills so cherished by Latinos, El Gato could point the way to a more harmonious future for professional soccer in America. That's a lot of pressure to put on the skinny, affable kid from Carrollton, but Torres' approach seems to have served him well so far: Just keep working, and good things will happen.

Tom Jenkins
Adjusting to the speed of the pro game has been a 
challenge for Torres, but he is confident he will play for 
the first team this season.
Tom Jenkins
Adjusting to the speed of the pro game has been a challenge for Torres, but he is confident he will play for the first team this season.

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