After providing the USA with a critical, late equalizer to earn a 3-3 draw against Ecuador in the opening game of the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup, midfielder Luca de la Torre continues to prove his ability to prove to be a dependable playmaker for the United States.
Here are five things you should know about the U-20 MNT and Fulham midfielder:
SAN DIEGO ROOTS
Before arriving at Craven Cottage, de la Torre was born and raised in San Diego. Growing up, he enjoyed going to the San Diego Zoo, Legoland, Westfield UTC mall, and getting his dose of Mexican food at Roberto’s in La Jolla. His favorite San Diego restaurant, however, is Urban Plates, also in La Jolla, a place he most enjoys going with his mother.
An only child to Juan de la Torre and Anne Bang, de la Torre’s parents are smart, to say the least.
Anne, who received her Ph.D. in Biology from the University of California-San Diego, is currently the Director of Stem Cell Biology at the Conrad Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics of the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif. In her role, Dr. Bang leads efforts to develop patient cell-specific and human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-based disease models for drug screening and target identification.
Juan, who received his Ph.D. from Universidad Autónoma of Madrid, is currently a professor in the Department of Immunology and Microbiology at the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego. The institute is a nonprofit medical research facility that focuses on research and education in the biomedical sciences.
WATCH: De la Torre Strike Rescues U.S. Point in World Cup Opener vs. Ecuador
ICE IN HIS VEINS
Before setting a new record for the latest goal scored by a U.S. player at the FIFA U-20 World Cup, de la Torre also found the back of the net in a few other critical Youth National Team moments while donning the red, white and blue.
After the U-20 MNT suffered 1-0 loss to Panama to open the 2017 CONCACAF U-20 Championship, the U.S. found itself tied 1-1 with Haiti in their following group game, desperately needing a go-ahead goal to keep their World Cup hopes alive. Just after halftime, de la Torre put the U.S. ahead for good by smashing a deflected corner kick into the back of the net.
Faced with another high-pressure situation in the penalty shootout of the CONCACAF U-20 Championship Final 12 days later, de la Torre nestled his fourth-round attempt home on the way to a 5-3 shootout victory against Honduras and the first U-20 CONCACAF crown in U.S. Soccer history.
Including his two seasons spent playing in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy for Nomads Youth Soccer Club (2011-12) and San Diego Surf (2012-2013), de la Torre also grew up playing for Carmel Valley Sharks and the Carmel Valley Manchester Soccer Club.
When he wasn’t at soccer practice, he spent any extra time he had training with his dad, who hails from the Spanish Canary Islands. Growing up in a border city like San Diego, de la Torre also acknowledged the influence his Mexican friends and teammates had on developing his style of play.
CLIMBING THE FULHAM RANKS
Shortly after his freshmen year at Torrey Pines High School, de la Torre made the move to become a professional soccer player, taking his talents to London. By signing with Fulham, de la Torre joined a long lineage of U.S. Men’s National Team players that made their way at Craven Cottage, including Clint Dempsey, Carlos Bocanegra and Brian McBride.
In his three seasons in London, de la Torre has passed through the club’s youth ranks, moving from U-18’s to U-23’s. The 2016-17 season provided him with a professional breakthrough, when he made his first-team debut in an early round EFL Cup match on Aug. 9, 2016.
His journey has been closely watched by his Fulham and U-20 U.S. MNT teammate, defender Marlon Fossey, who had to pull out of the U-20 World Cup due to injury.