Bob Bradley, hear the American cries: We want Jose Torres! And we want to see him tonight against Costa Rica!
Jose Torres is a Mexican-American soccer player, who last year committed his international soccer future to the United States. Only right now, his future doesn’t even have a present. For reasons unbeknownst to mankind, Torres is not finding any playing time with the USMNT.
All factors imply that the contrary should actually be the case, though. Torres supersedes the good majority of his countrymen in qualifications for the American national squad. But somehow, Bob Bradley always manages to elude Torres when it comes time to put players on the pitch.
On Tuesday, the Americans suffered a crushing blow, losing forward Charlie Davies for an undetermined length of time after Davies sustained multiple injuries in a car accident. The big question now is who will take Davies’ place in the squad? I think I have the answer. Does Coach Bradley?
At this point in time, American soccer is like a lesser version of Italian football: it features technical play. It’s like Bob Bradley writes his players a script, they memorize it, and then perform their roles. Rarely does an American soccer player know how to successfully improvise within his script.
Jose Torres, however, brings to the table a sense of creativity unique to the USMNT. The Texas native is great on the ball, has quick feet, and provides Yossi Benayoun-like in-and-out attack from the midfield. And if you want to get picky, I’ll reference Torres’ club play as well. In one of the smartest decisions ever made by an American international who isn’t quite ready to go to Europe, Torres avoided the MLS, instead playing for Pachuca in the Mexican First Division, a better league all-around in preparing players for the international stage.
So what’s Bradley’s issue with Torres? Your guess is as good as mine. Popular theory suggests that Bradley plays favorites, electing to choose personal preferences over “the other guy” in Torres.
This belief actually seems to have some truth, too. Lately, Bradley has been keen on playing Jonathan Borenstein, and Sascha Klestjan, when around, is almost always used as a second-half substitute. The common denominator: both Borenstein and Klejstan were coached by Bradley at Chivas USA before Bradley took over as the head of the USMNT. Another common denominator apparently oblivious to Coach Bradley is that neither Borenstein nor Klejstan are fit for the international stage.
Jose Torres is fit for the international stage and he has the potential to play a crucial role in American soccer over the next few years. First, though, he needs some ground on which to get started. Torres cannot be thrust into a game next summer in South Africa and be expected to make a serious impact.
Which is why tonight is the night. Bob Bradley needs play Jose Torres tonight against Costa Rica. It is a perfect opportunity for Torres to get his foot in the door with the USMNT.
First of all, the Americans are now looking for someone to replace Charlie Davies. Torres is not a true striker like Davies, but it might be the national team’s best option to alter their formation to feature one striker, Jozy Altidore, and a couple attacking midfielders, one of which could be Torres.
Secondly, the game is a meaningless one with meaning. In other words, the United States have already clinched qualification to South Africa 2010, but a win against Costa Rica will earn them first place in CONCACAF qualifying, and thus a better chance at earning a better seed in next summer’s tournament. Bob Bradley can feel free to introduce new personnel to the line-up tonight, but no one entirely too experimental. Using Torres, in comparison to someone like Robby Rogers or Kenny Cooper, would allow for experimentation without seriously reducing quality on the pitch.
When Jose Torres declared the United States, rather than Mexico his national soccer team, he personally wrapped and delivered Bob Bradley a golden gift. How long will Bradley persist to leave his gift unwrapped? Inside, there is a world of potential, and the USA coach knows this. (Louder voices than mine have staked the same claim.) So please, Coach Bradley, tonight, America wants Torres. America needs Torres.