Friday, October 3, 2008

Torres coup

By now, you've probably heard that Jose Francisco Torres has decided to play with the US national team. Torres was among the 23 players called into camp by Bob Bradley ahead of the next pair of World Cup qualifiers. Actually, he'll be with the US for the match against Cuba on Oct. 11 and, my guess, he'll be part of the team that goes to Trinidad should the US take care of business at RFK.

Now, Torres is a talented player. You don't get significant playing time for a club like Pachuca without talent, after all. But this decision by Torres is really a coup in more ways than one.

Sure, Torres' presence on the left side gives the US another option, a young option who could develop into a talented first-choice player in the near future. Pachuca, after all, has produced several quality players in recent history and Torres stands to be another in the increasingly long list of national team caliber players that come from Tuzo-land.

But more important than his potential is his background. Although born and bred in Texas, Torres could have chosen to bide his time and wait to play for Mexico. Just a week ago, I was among a small group talking to FMF honcho Guillermo Cantu about this very subject. When asked about the potential for players like Torres to follow in the footsteps of Edgar Castillo, who chose Mexico over his birth nation, Cantu had a very valid point. He said Mexicans were very proud, and the allure of Mexico was strong even for Mexicans born here.

I can attest to that a bit. I've lived twice in my life in Mexico, when I was 18 and then when I was almost 30. And I hope in the future to be able to retire there or spend a lot of time there... well, either there or somewhere in the Caribbean, but that's neither here nor there...

Regardless, Torres could have spurned Bradley again and stayed with his club team and nobody would have thought any worse than they had before. Well, perhaps the US might have felt a bit turned back by it but he wouldn't be the first player to spurn the US lately, would he?

If that would have happened, Michael Orozco would have looked like a fluke. Orozco, of course, chose the US over Mexico when he agreed to play for the US Under-23 national team, which led to a spot in the Olympics and then call-ups to the senior national team as well. That would have looked like a case of a player not good enough to play for the team with more depth and instead going to the US simply because it was either that or nothing.

Instead, it looks like the allure Cantu talked about only went so far in this case. Perhaps Orozco and Torres felt their chances were better off professionally in another country, whose soccer is far more developed than it is here in the United States. But when it came down to it, it looks as if wanting to represent their birth country and defending their colors was also important, if not the aspect that sealed the deal.

There's hope. For the US, there is hope that someday, possibly sooner than many had anticipated, the US national team can tap into the vast wealth of talent that is the Mexican-American well.

Who knows how many players out there are as good as or better than Torres, Orozco or Castillo? But they're out there, playing with friends after school, trying their fate with a club team perhaps, maybe playing AYSO. They're 12, 13, 14 years old, possibly younger, hoping to make it as a pro one day.

And now when they look at their birth nation, the United States, and its national team, they will see some familiar names, names that they can relate to. And perhaps then Torres and Orozco will become some sort of role model, trailblazers if you will, and show that the allure to stay home is also a strong one too.


A.Ruiz said...

What's that stat that's thrown aroudn a lot.

in 2050 1/3 of Americans will be of Latino descent...mainly Mexican. About 133 million people (that number keeps going up).

Get used to it folks.

Anonymous said...

"And now when they look at their birth nation, the United States, and its national team, they will see some familiar names, names that they can relate to."
I think this sums up the importance of Torres' decision in a nutshell.
I no longer am the wide-eyed kid playing with friends at the park, but I am encouraged by Torres' decision and hoping he does well.

Anonymous said...

I think the inclusion of Torres and Orozco is a very good thing, who knows maybe more hispanics will come out and support our team a little more instead of out numbering us at Home and rooting for the other guys. It certainly is going to change perceptions of the lack of Hispanics on the team.which tink has been why we dont get the support. Glad to see these two make it. I'll keep my ears to the Hispanic news outlets and see what they say about this call up. The fact that he is a starter for pachucs makes this auite important.

Anonymous said...

This is historic and it means the tide is turning for both Mexico and the US. To some extent, both nations have talent falling out of the skies yet they never seem to field the best 11 during World Cups when it counts the most. It seems as if Sven is tapping some untapped resources as well.

I have been a very vocal critic of the US National Team both in their style of play and their player selection. The US Nats have seriously lacked technically gifted players. This quality no doubt is represented well in the Latin community here in the US and a seemingly stubborn and moronic refusal to cultivate this talent amid a massive potential talent pool of players.

My hats off to Bradley, I had high hopes when he got the job. Now if he could only do something about Rossi, ok well he's lost but how about a Kenny Cooper.

No seriously, these players are role models, not just Orozco and Torres, but all the capped players, and the more we see guys from untraditional paths with talent get on the US team, the more we can seriously start to hope for WC trophy someday.


Anonymous said...

At AC and LB:

I wanted to mention something I recently watched on Fox Sports en Espanol. It's a national tournament sponsored by FSE, Sears, and others, called the Copa Allianza.

It's a fascinating concept to scout the best non-traditional player talent out there, largely of Latino descent. Sort of what Chivas USA has done with Sueno MLS, except this seems to be throughout the US in cities such as SF, NY, Miami, DC, Chicago, Houston etc...

Former pro players, and real scouts from Latin America acted as the scouts, and coaches. They picked the best of the best in each city and had them play Atlas' 2nd division squad. They often played them to entertaining matches. Those that survived made it to the national all-star team and were rewarded by playing Chivas 2nd division squad, Tapatio, at Titan stadium in Fullerton. The national all-stars would be coached by none other than Club America legend and former coach, Daniel Brailovsky. Pretty cool concept.

Remarkably, but not surprisingly several of these players had tried out for MLS teams and were cut, according to the announcers.

One of the players, in particular, who was amazing on defense (in my opinion), 18 years old, and had experienced being cut by the Red Bulls??? Lol. Almost all of these guys played in amateur rec adult leagues in their respective cities....which says to me more of these types of events are needed...badly. Why can't MLS or even USL do something similar on a national level or god forbid the US federation.


A.Ruiz said...

Unknown said...

Hurray for Torres! That's what America is all about - the great melting pot. Hopefully he and Orozco inspires both players and fans of Latino decent. And I think the fans are just as important as the players.

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone needs to "get used to it". It's a great development for anyone who is a US soccer supporter. Long have the cries been heard for tapping into the latino community. Good work on staying on top of this all Luis.

Anonymous said...

Finding these prospects is one thing, teaching them how to play right is another. So what if we identify a thousand good latino players if they are going to get coached by the likes of Hackworth and other losers. Will they all be able to learn to play in Mexico? I hope so.

I think every fan of the US team doesn't care what ethnicity is playing for the team as long as they can play. Teams from europe have done just as good if not better than latin-american teams in the world cup.

We just need better coaches for everyone in this country.

Anonymous said...

Listening to ESPN Deportes Radio right now

Apparently Sven called him up for their camp, He turned down the offer to play for Mexico, Decided he'd play for the US Team instead. Jorge Zambrano I think his name is a reporter in Mexico so i guess he has more inside knowledge.
I guess they are leaving it to the callers and the panel of pundits to decide whether he made the right or wrong decision. I'm curious if he's going to be called a traitor or something.

Gabriel in Argentina said...

hats off to you Luis..can´t help that you had some influence on this...maybe not directly..but certainly indirectly...well done..

Stan said...

I agree with Cantu that cultural pulls will often be strong for kids with Mexican roots. (For one thing, if he was from Laredo instead of Longview, the pull might have been stronger.)

But I'm glad to see we're "in the game" where we need to be.

Anonymous said...

In the article he says that the USSF was in constant contact with him and that the FMF had called him at the last minute once he had already made up his mind. So he probably would have chosen Mexico had there been more interest from the FMF.

betch said...

Regardless of which country he would have preferred, thank you so much for covering this. There is so little info out there and this is such a huge topic!

Anonymous said...

I won't lie, I am so pleased with his decision that I have been pricing out a custom US jersey, the first one with a name and number I would purchase in my near 20 years supporting the team, tonight. I hope to see him get some PT against Cuba and possibly a start against T&T.

And, for the record, I'm a 50/50 Irish-Italian American.

BlueWhiteLion said...

I do wonder about the overall quality of US coaches in spotting and developing talent. I like some of the higher profile guys, but wonder about our depth.

I agree with others that to say "get used to it" sounds a bit like having a chip on one's shoulder--but I, a middle aged white guy--I couldn't give a rip what ethnic background anyone is. I love soccer and I LOVE the prospect of some creative, quick, Mexican-style soccer being infused into the US team. That isn't the ONLY answer to the US ills, but it is surely part of the answer.

Glad to have you on board, Torres.