BRIAN SCIARETTA - Monday, June 21, 2010
Coming off his first ever World Cup appearance, US midfielder Jose Torres is hoping to build off his performance against Slovenia and help the US in its attempt to advance to the knockout stages.
Torres played very well in the US' send-off Series against the Czech Republic and Turkey but earned mixed reviews from most analysts in his World Cup debut against Slovenia last Friday.
In the game, Torres was removed at halftime with the US was trailing 2-0. The team would later rally and earn a point in 2-2 draw.
Still, Torres was happy that head coach Bob Bradley had the faith to start him in such an important match and he hopes to see the field again at this World Cup in South Africa.
"It was great," Torres recalled on the opportunity to make a World Cup start. "I'm happy Bob Bradley gave me a chance to be in a World Cup game. I'm looking for more."
Bradley typically plays Torres in the central midfield and trusts him to make key distributions to the forwards and other midfielders. Torres knew this was going to be a difficult assignment against the Slovenian team which had one of the best defenses of any European team during World Cup qualification.
"I tried to do that, I tried to get up front and get it to my teammates," the Texas native said of his effort. "When you have a good defending team that are all sitting back just watching and waiting for the ball to go through, it's tough."
"The first half is always tough," he continued. "It's always going to be tight. There are not going to be a lot of spots to get the ball in. But second half is always different. You get a little bit more space, a little more balls in the gap."
While Torres left the game after only 45 minutes, he still felt his performance was one in which he can build upon and use to help the team against Algeria or any other future opponents should they advance to the knockout rounds.
"I think I played a lot of good balls, got a shot on goal." Torres assessed. "I'm happy. I think I did a good job."
At just 22 years old, Torres was asked to play a very important role at a World Cup game in which his team could not afford to lose. After the game, he would admit that he was nervous at the start.
"It's always tough in the first World Cup," Torres confessed. "I guess it's better to be nervous than not. I think I was a little bit nervous but after that I started moving and started getting on the ball. I like to get the ball on my feet and I like to control the game."
While Torres was nervous at the start of the game, he was able to create the Americans' best scoring opportunity of the first half when he launched a free kick from the left corner of the penalty area to the near post. Slovenian goalkeeper Samir Handanovic was forced to make a difficult out-stretched save.
Prior to taking the kick, Torres received some advice from Landon Donovan.
"He's knows we've been practicing during the week," Torres said of Donovan's advice. "His side is the left side, and my side is the right side. He told me to smack it. It was my free kick and I was going to go for goal. It was a good chance, but the goalie got there in time."
Torres and the US will play Algeria on Wednesday in the South African capital of Pretoria. While there are some scenarios that would secure advancement with a draw, a win by the Americans would clinch a spot for them in the knockout rounds.