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Why hasn't Jose Francisco Torres been playing for the U.S. national team lately?
That question has been on the minds of many observers who have wondered about Torres' lack of playing time in recent weeks, including zero appearances in the Confederations Cup. The Pachuca midfielder hasn't played since being replaced at halftime of the U.S. team's loss to Costa Rica, a game where he actually impressed despite a shaky start, and that extended absence has left fans and media wondering what happened.
U.S. coach Bob Bradley spoke to the media on Thursday and provided his first in-depth public comments on Torres and his status with the national team. It certainly sheds some light on where the young midfielder stands with the U.S. team.
“Jose has had a very, very busy schedule with his club team and in discussions we felt that it was important that he have a little bit of a break before things start up again," Bradley said. "When we look at all the different factors, certainly the idea that next summer, players will be coming right from their clubs into training camp that leads into the World Cup.
"You have to make very difficult decisions about whether a player can go a couple years without a break or there’s a need in some cases for a player to have a little bit of a break now before he begins an important stretch."
When asked what Torres needs to work on to improve and increase his role with the national team, Bradley provided even more insight:
“I think it’s just that he’s a young player. I think Pachuca has done a very good job of developing his talent," Bradley said. "If you were to look at the way they have used him in the last couple of years, they have also brought him along at the right speed, and with all that in mind, we look at how he handles things every time he comes into camp.
"He did have an opportunity this year to have a number of appearances in his first year with the national team, and a number of starts, so I think that is a sign from us in terms of our feeling for what he can do for the national team," Bradley said. "With any young player you try to move him along at the right speed—to make decisions about when it’s time to play more, when you need to maybe give it a little more time to see. So we’re in that process, it’s gone well so far and hopefully it will continue to move forward.”
Based on Bradley's comments it does sound as though Torres is in his plans and has not been frozen out by or fallen out of favor with the U.S. coach. We will see in the coming months what Torres' role winds up being and how much better the 21-year-old midfielder can become.
What do you think of Bradley's comments? Do they help give you a better understanding of where Torres stands in the national team picture? Are you more confident that Torres will have a role to play in the coming months and next year? Anxious to see him take the field vs. Mexico on Aug. 12?
Share your thoughts below.