BY JONATHAN VERA
CARSON, Calif. – Jose Torres has had his ups and downs as part of the U.S. men's national team over the past three years, but Torres has enjoyed a national team renaissance under new U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann
Despite the U.S. team' s 1-0 loss to Costa Rica on Friday night, Torres was one of the standout American bright spots, and was arguably the best U.S. player on the night. That's not bad for a player who had gone more than a year without a national team appearance before being called in by Klinsmann last month.
“Bob [Bradley] gave me an opportunity to be here and to get a good World Cup in and I tried to do good but played only 45 minutes,” confessed Torres. “After that, I never got called in again. I never heard from him again.
“I got interviewed a few times and they asked me if i thought I was ever getting called in again and I just thought hopefully. And then Klinsmann came in and I got called up again."
Since taking over as U.S. head coach, Klinsmann has had nothing but praise for the Texas native and has even gone to the lengths of promoted him to a new position on the team.
At Pachuca and with the national team under Bradley, Torres has operated as a central midfielder, but in the Klinsmann era he’s spent more time on the left flank.
“My usual role is in the midfield, but Klinsmann puts me out wide on the left to attack a little more,” Torres explained. “But wherever he puts me I try to do my best.”
After Friday night’s 1-0 loss to Costa Rica, in a game that was dominated by the Americans in the first half, Klinsmann had nothing but praise and admiration for his side, and singled out Torres as one of his best players.
“Overall, the feeling is very positive,” Klinsmann said. “You can see that he’s more comfortable and confident, and he needs these types of games to grow and I think he’s doing it at a very fast pace.”
Though Torres was muscled off the ball a few times, he was able to deliver precise passes, sometimes even under heavy pressure, and was working through every part of real estate on the pitch.
“I think he has a very good vision," Klinsmann said. "He sees the spaces, he passes those balls, and he can switch it really quick to the other side.
"And we told him to take those risks and not to worry about a pass not ending the right way.”
Torres is a skilled player with experience, but he’s still young and developing. Klinsmann understands that the way to help Torres keep progressing and improving is to keep encouraging him and giving him experience in pressure situations.
“The more he’s here, the more he understands his role, the more comfortable he’ll get," Klinsmann said. "He’s definitely a player that we’ll build in the months and years to come."