Americans do love a story of second chances.
And while it’s not exactly fair to say that Jose Torres’ international career was wrecked beyond repair two summers back at age 22, his confidence was surely at a low point after the skillful midfielder’s World Cup beat down.
Torres started against Slovenia in a match heavy with implications for the United States’ second round hopes – hopes that went on the ropes when they slogged off to the Ellis Park dressing room burdened with a 2-0 halftime deficit.
Torres needed to justify his lack of defensive discipline that evening by branding the game with attacking creativity. Only, he didn’t. His tackling was clumsy and his passing imprecise at best, totally devoid of any bold authority. It really was a troubled 45 minutes and he was yanked at halftime, surely a devastating blow for such a young man, one so light on international experience to that point.
The United States rallied to draw memorably. As for Torres, he didn’t play for Bob Bradley again. Not in South Africa. Not through the following summer.
So, it was nice to see the Pachuca (Mexico) man connecting gracefully, but decisively, on Saturday against Scotland. We talked up big performances from Michael Bradley and Landon Donovan, and rightly so. But there was plenty to praise in Torres’ body of work, too.
Can he replicate the spiffy work tonight against a much tougher foe, the five-time world champion Brazilians?
While you ponder, read more on Torres and his journey out of Longview, Texas, and back into U.S. graces from the Sporting News’ Brian Straus.