Jose Francisco Torres: Defensive Liability?

Discussion in 'USA Men: News & Analysis' started by dwsmith1972, May 31, 2012.

  1. dwsmith1972

    dwsmith1972 BigSoccer Supporter

    May 11, 2007
    Club:
    New York Red Bulls
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    At the risk of being pegged as a Torres Apologist, I have yet to see convincing evidence of Torres' defensive limitations/liabilities; liabilities related to his size; or speed/quickness deficiencies. I am open to admitting that perhaps it is my own game watching shortcomings and to be walking through examples of plays. I also think that it would be useful [certainly helpful to me and my own understanding of the game] to talk about the different sorts of defensive qualities and attributes and demands of either our old 4-4-2 twin system under BB or in the variety of systems that JK has utilized. Particularly as relates to our cm pool and to JFT in particular.

    In terms of examples of poor defense, I a am interested in assessing JFT's quality/lack thereof relative to other players as well as in general. As far as his history, I recall a bad first half in Saprissa (which involved a weird 4-3-3 experiment on the road, on carpet as well as poor performances by Mastro and Beasely of equal suckitude) and a horribly botched tackle attempt versus Belgium but that seemed to be a discrete piece of evidence. And yet it is almost a truism here that Torres has defensive limitations (relative, presumably, to his CM competitors Edu, Beckerman, Jones, Bradley). The breakdowns in CR which were two goals in the first half struck me as more to do with systemic issues [goal 1] in that there seemed to be a communications breakdown between Mastro and Torres subsequent to Beasley's botched clearance and rifled ball in JFT's face. The second goal seemed to be a combination of the same systemic breakdown along with JFT's failure to track back. With respect to the latter, isn't it fair to assume that it's correctable via player experience/maturity/coaching? While he is certainly asked to do different things in the Mexican league tempo-wise [much due to weather], he has shown both at Pachuca and for the US a willingness to run, tackle and work hard on defense.

    While I would concede that Edu covers more ground and is likely faster, I don't see him as a top notch defensive midfielder nor does whatever he brings defensively offset the amounts of times he creates more defensive opportunities for us by cheaply giving away possession in our own 3rd and elsewhere. Edu strikes me as slightly better version of Rico. Bradley has a great motor, ok speed and quickness but I don't think anyone would call him a great defensive midfielder. He seems to be more disciplined now. Jones strikes me as a very good athlete who is capable of covering as much ground as Edu but who might not have the positional discipline (?) of a Beckerman, who is a good tackler and tidy passer but lacks the athleticism of an Edu. Holden, when healthy based solely on his form in the EPL last year pre injury, is the most complete we have defensively and going forward. Sacha and Benny, while less slight than JFT, havent necessarily struck me as anything more than decent defenders.

    Most else about JFT's use strikes me as a result for never having been given the chance to work through chemistry issues with a center midfield partner over the course of 90 mins, having always been unceremoniously yanked at halftime (Costa Rica, Holland, Czech Republica, Slovenia) or used as a second half sub.

    In any case, I am interested in hearing other's thoughts or analysis/disagreement.
     
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  2. drgonzo

    drgonzo Member+

    Jun 1, 2011
    Club:
    San Diego Flash
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Agreed. he tracked back, defended when asked. i do wish he was more aggressive in commanding the ball when going forward but this whole business of him being a liability defending hasn't found a solid leg to stand on.
     
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  3. Pragidealist

    Pragidealist Member+

    Mar 3, 2010
    Torres did quite well defensively from his position as an attacking midfielder. He did well enough that I would be interested to see if he can do that from an 8 position. I wouldn't want him any further back. I think his size is too much advantage.
     
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  4. Fanatical Monk

    Fanatical Monk Member+

    Jun 14, 2011
    Fantasyland
    He's a quality cm, and is being asked to play a bit wider than he normally does. He's not a winger. I'd like to see him play in his preferred midfield spot paired with Bradley and another quality DM, presumably Jones, Williams or Beckerman. Or, better yet, as part of a midfield diamond. I've seen what Edu brings, and he can be a useful sub for us down the road, but shouldn't be a starter most games.
     
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  5. Maximum Optimal

    Maximum Optimal Member+

    Jul 10, 2001
    I think his defense has improved. I thought the overall defensive work he put in against Costa Rica and Belgium was significantly better than what we saw in his starts against Holland and Slovenia. But he's always going to be a different kind of defender. He doesn't have the size and power to shoulder another player off the ball. He needs to compensate by better positioning. I think his workrate on defense has improved. And he is a good trailing defender. By that I mean he's good at coming back and double-teaming a player and picking his pocket. But one-on-one I don't feel confident in his ability to win the duels against the more athletic teams, Brazil being an example.

    Generally speaking, we have yet to see a midfield combination where the chemistry is really good. We have a lot of pairings whose effectiveness is less than the sum of the parts. It is frustrating to watch. In some cases it is because we have a couple alpha male types (Jones and Bradley) who need to curtail some impulses. They're both very talented players but I think the team would be better off if they played in a simpler more circumscribed way. I loved how Bradley played against Italy but wonder if he replicate that on a regular basis. Edu plays humbly but for some strange reason both BB and JK try to get him to do more than he is suited for. As for Torres, I think he sets the best tempo of any of our mids. But the others have to accept that more of the offense needs to run through him. I haven't seen that happening, except when he has been paired up as the 8 to Edu's 6.
     
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  6. ark215

    ark215 Member

    Jan 16, 2009
    America
    Club:
    New York Red Bulls
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    You would think that JFT would struggle against fast, athletic teams like Brazil but he did well defensively. Then again, there wasn't much of an attack coming from that side of the field. The past two games doesn't show what JFT is capable or incapable of doing defensively.

    I think the system the USA has played the past two games for the most part requires a LM who covers more ground and has the pace to recover. Either that or a true defensive mid who sits all game in front of the back four.

    Would you want JFT to play in the middle 3? I'm assuming that's the purpose of the Edu comparison. I'd give it a shot against Canada but it might be too many games in a row for Torres. Honestly, it's a little troubling to see these guys to play so many games in such a short span after many of them came of long seasons already. The high pressing might tire us out for a very important game. That's a discussion for another day.
     
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  7. El Michael

    El Michael Member

    Dec 17, 2009
    Club:
    DC United
    That he can possess the ball and not turn it over makes him a far less defensive liability than 90 + % of the team
     
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  8. schrutebuck

    schrutebuck Member+

    Jul 26, 2007
    I've come around on this thinking on Torres. Like another often discussed CM, Torres seems to be improving a little every year and I think for Torres a lot of it has come in his defensive work and how he positions himself.

    I don't see the need for him against Antigua, but I could see Klinsmann going with this trio on the road against Guatemala.

    -------Torres---------Jones-------
    --------------Bradley--------------

    Reminds me of 2009. As long as they survive the first five minutes...
     
  9. Skevin

    Skevin Member+

    Aug 9, 2009
    Texas
    Club:
    Aston Villa FC
    Nat'l Team:
    Czechia
    Torres and Bradley are our two most creative players currently. Bradley is the the box to box mid who can create chances and pop up in dangerous spots to score goals. Torres is the David Silva of our nation. He is brilliant when you give him the ball but if he doesn't have the ball, he is pretty useless. Torres tracks back much better now but that job should be left for Jones and Bradley. We need to use Torres as the outlet man. Him and Dempsey work well with one another. If we are playing around Torres, he will be our best player by far. EX the turkey match. I want to see Torres-Jones-Bradley as our 3 CMs. Play much like Arsenal does. Jones stays back and helps the CBs but can also play some nice balls out wide. Bradley plays the Arteta role where he runs up and down the pitch defending and attacking. Torres will be our Rosicky. He will mostly stay forward and give him the ball and he will produce goals.
     
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  10. JAVez1983

    JAVez1983 Member

    Sep 2, 2008
    Tampa
    Club:
    Fulham FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    THIS!!!!! Especially the bolded....I was starting to wonder if I was the only one who was noticing this....good to know i'm not alone!
     
  11. JAVez1983

    JAVez1983 Member

    Sep 2, 2008
    Tampa
    Club:
    Fulham FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I swear I noticed Brazil purposely avoiding going up Torres/Johnson side...It's almost like they knew it wasn't going to work unless somehow they put in a cross behind the defense. Seems like Brazil watched the Scotland game a few times to prepare...
     
  12. ant0n

    ant0n Member+

    Jun 12, 2007
    San Jose, Ca
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Yep this BS about Torres being a bad defensive player needs to stop. He was playing Left mid for two games and he did more defensively than Clint Dempsey would do in an entire match. We can even lump Donovan in there. Out of those three Torres offers more defensively. He is just not a winger so we cannot expect him to be at his best there. He needs to replace Edu in the midfield three going forward because like others have said, Edu offers nothing in the attack and is a liability defensively because his touch is so bad. Just play Torres as the most advanced of the 3 and I believe we'll be much improved.
     
  13. Matrim55

    Matrim55 Member+

    Aug 14, 2000
    Berkeley
    Club:
    Connecticut
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Watch the Scotland goal again. He roams all the way across the field to the right side in attack, then when the ball is lost doesn't track back as hard and fast as he can. As a result Edu is asked to both protect the middle and close down Bardsley. He can't, and any decent wide player will put that ball on Miller's head 9x out of 10.

    I'm not slamming Torres; he belongs in the team, preferably in the middle. But he needs to understand defensive responsibilities much better than he currently does.
     
  14. QuakeAttack

    QuakeAttack Member+

    Apr 10, 2002
    California - Bay Area
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Wasn't the Scotland game that he went into the corner a couple of times on defense with good results. How about his defense with Boyd setting up the first goal?

    He understands his defense responsibilities just fine. His biggest problem is meshing with the other players. He want's t play short quick game at times which Edu and others stuggle with (whether touch or lack of movement).
     
  15. ebbro

    ebbro Member+

    Jun 10, 2005
    Good job. Attempt to end one myth by perpetuating another.
     
  16. ant0n

    ant0n Member+

    Jun 12, 2007
    San Jose, Ca
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Myth? Attacking players to not track as much as a center mid would.
     
  17. sidefootsitter

    sidefootsitter Member+

    Oct 14, 2004
    Uh, no.

    Bradley is actually showing well as an #8, not as a #6. Jones is a #6 not an #8.

    So, it's pretty clear that, in the same formation with the same three players, it's

    ----------Torres--------Bradley------

    -----------------Jones----------------

    And, to throw more shrimp on the barbie, today France was in the same formation vs. Serbia.

    ----------------Benzema---------------

    Ribery-----------------------------Nasri

    -----------Malouda------Cabaye--------

    -------------------M'Vila-----------------

    Clichy----Koscielny----Mexes----Reveillere

    So, this 4-1-4-1 with twin 8's is quickly becoming a formation du jour over the "old" 4-2-3-1.

    The game is on ESPN3, btw.
     
  18. schrutebuck

    schrutebuck Member+

    Jul 26, 2007
    I'm referring to what seems likely that Klinsmann would do with this trio. I would have Jones and Bradley switched as well.
     
  19. Martin Fischer

    Martin Fischer Member+

    Feb 23, 1999
    Kampala. Uganda
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Horribly wrong. Silva and Rosicky run at players and beat them off the dribble and directly create scoring chances for their teammates. Torres has dribbling skill, but he generally uses that skill to keep possession and set up a possession, not penetrating, pass. Torres is a uesful player but he doesn't directly create nearly enough scoring chances for this analogy to work.

    P.S. - arguing that Torres did well defensively against Brazil is useless as JK put him in a position where he didn't have to defend as much, so we can't tell how well he could handle the defensive duties of the CM position. Hopefully, we will get that chance in the next game.
     
  20. sidefootsitter

    sidefootsitter Member+

    Oct 14, 2004
    Fair enough. I hope he sees the error of his ways then.

    Blanc used the same system today and played Double-8's where they are supposed to be played.

    The US has several 8's at its disposal - Holden, Torres, Bedoya - and now Mikey - seem to be capable of that role. If Jürgen runs a scheme heavily dependent on the #8's, he should have called up and kept a greater share of these players.

    His pal Jogi did just that.
     
  21. Skevin

    Skevin Member+

    Aug 9, 2009
    Texas
    Club:
    Aston Villa FC
    Nat'l Team:
    Czechia
    Are you trying to dispute Rosicky's playing style with me? I am Czech, Rosicky is my favorite player, and I have been watching him play since his days in the Bundesliga. Rosicky and Torres are very similar players. Rosicky's game is more defined but ultimately Torres plays very similar to Rosicky. Too bad Jurgen plays him at LW. If Torres was played centrally, he could do more damage.
     
  22. Martin Fischer

    Martin Fischer Member+

    Feb 23, 1999
    Kampala. Uganda
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Not sure what I am disputing, since you don't say anything other than saying they are similar and I can't tell if you disagree with my description of Rosicky, Torres or both. I am an Arsenal fan and watch all of their games, in which Rosicky featured prominently this year. So let's dispense with the resume padding and go to the merits of the matter.

    The two players are not similar. Rosicky takes the ball at pace and runs at and by players. Torres uses his skill to keep possession of the ball. Rosicky directly creates scoring chances for himself and others while Torres sets the table. Rosicky had six assists for Arsenal (and had 9 assists in his best season with Dortmund), while Torres had zero last season (and never more than 3 in a season). Torres has Rosicky's skill but he is a completely different player because he lacks Roskicky's explosiveness (pace over a short distance)), in addition to being a little short in the skill department.

    Obviously, this is an opinion and people who actually know these players can judge for themselves.
     
  23. Spursfan1

    Spursfan1 Member+

    Sep 7, 2010
    Atlanta
    Club:
    Tottenham Hotspur FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    in a 4-3-3 torres isnt wide left. he is more central. the wide players are the left back and right back. this is a more compact and difficult formation to break down and easier to attack from when done correctly.

    evidenced by our overpowering game against scotland.

    torres does play LM while the center defensively is handled by the big three. this shouldnt be hard to figure out.
     

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