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U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM

June 1, 2010
COMING OF AGE
23-year-old Torres finding his place in the national team mix

By Charles Cuttone
Executive Editor

World Cup 2010 will be U.S. Midfielder Jose Torres’ first major international tournament.
World Cup 2010 will be U.S. Midfielder Jose Torres’ first major international tournament.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Since he has made less than a dozen appearances for the U.S. National Team, midfielder Jose Torres might have been considered a surprise selection to the World Cup team that left for South Africa on Sunday, but the Texas-born Mexican League player has had a growing presence on Bob Bradley’s squad over the past two years.

Torres, who was born of a Mexican father and American mother, declared his intention to play for the U.S. National team in 2008, and made his national team debut less than two months later in a World Cup qualifier against Cuba at RFK Stadium.

Torres, who plays for Pachuca in the Primera Division, is starting to feel more at home with the U.S. team, after playing in five qualifiers last year and traveling (though not playing) to the Confederations Cup in South Africa last June.

"I've started to gain a lot more confidence and I feel good,” Torres said after the United States’ 2-1 win over Turkey on Saturday. “I feel good about my teammates, and every day I'm learning something from them. We have a great group of guys and we all get along."

A quick, left-footed midfielder, Torres can play either in the center or out wide. Bradley has depended on him to bring a spark to the team, which he did in the second half of Saturday’s World cup send-off match against Turkey, after the U.S. had a lackluster performance in the first half. His performance earned praise from Bradley.

“I think all of the players that came on at halftime helped. They brought energy, and in particular, Jose found a very good way, when we’re trying to push the game, of finding spots, getting the ball and getting the ball moving,” said the U.S. coach.” Similar to the second half against Costa Rica, at that point when you’re behind, we’re pushing Michael [Bradley] to be more active and more mobile and the understanding between the two was good. I thought Jose really played well and was sharp, found the right people and covered all the holes really well.”

The 23-year-old Torres, who has been a member of the Pachuca youth system since the age of 16, has fit in well with and tried to learn from the team’s more experienced players, like Clint Dempsey, his roommate on the road, and Bradley.


“He’s a great midfielder,” Torres says of Bradley. “Watching him play or watching videos of him, he’s always moving. He’s always defending and he’s always hitting long balls. Just watching him or watching Benny [Feilhaber], they’re experienced players. They’re on a different level and I try to catch up on that. I try to (watch) videos so I can close gaps, win a lot of balls and win a lot of tackles. I think today helped me out a lot,” he said after the Turkey match. “I think I’m starting to fit in very well.”

Now a regular in the first team for Pachuca, Torres is happy with his role for the U.S., and was comfortable with what Coach Bradley wanted him to do on Saturday.

“He always wants us to go into the game and move the ball,” said Torres.” We try to get the ball to the forwards. We did a good job of that in the second half. We had two goals in the second half and I think the team came back. We were down 1-0 and we had to change the rhythm of the game and catch up. We wanted to win this game."

Leaving the U.S. on a winning note, Torres is now looking forward to playing in his first major international tournament.

“It leaves us happy and with a lot of confidence,” he said of the comeback win. “We know we now have to focus on the game that's coming on June 12. England's a difficult task and that'll be a tough game, but we've shown we can play with any team and beat any team."


   
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