Klinsmann wants Torres to start taking ownership of the U.S. team and exerting his influence in the form of goals created.One third of Americans 25 through 34 years old still live with their parents, according to a study by the Pew Research Center. People are getting married later too, with the U.S. median age of first marriage increasing by nearly four years since 1980, according to a study by Zhenchao Qian, of Ohio State University. Adulthood, or at least its common indicators, arrives later than ever.
Spare a thought, then, for sports stars, who aren't afforded such luxury. In cruelly compressed careers, maturity must arrive before the body starts to deteriorate. Take, for example, Jose Francisco Torres. According to U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann, the time for Torres to grow up is right now.
"Jose is at a stage where we would like to see him taking over more responsibilities, taking more control of the game and also making more decisive passes or plays in a game," Klinsmann said ahead of a pair of World Cup qualifiers against Jamaica.
"He has that quality, we believe. He has the technique. He's quite experienced. He's not a youngster anymore, he's not the age of Joe Corona. He knows now what it is all about."
Torres is 24. Corona, his fellow Mexico-based midfielder on the U.S. roster, is 22. But it's more than just age. Torres has been starting in the Mexican league in the heart of Pachuca's midfield off and on since he was a teenager.
Thus far he's failed to stamp himself as a star in Liga MX and, despite ample opportunities under Klinsmann, hasn't carved out a starting role on the U.S. national team. In a 1-0 win over Mexico in Azteca Stadium last month, Klinsmann yanked Torres at halftime.
"The message to him is very simple," Klinsmann said "He needs just to do more and to have more influence on the game. He didn't have that influence in the first half at Azteca Stadium. That's why I took him off."
The United States struggles to develop playmakers, which is a large part of the Longview, Texas native's appeal. His Mexican father and soccer development south of the border gave Torres a slick Latin passing game.
Torres could use "maybe a little bit more physicality in one-against-one battles," Klinsmann pointed out, but "the other elements he has. He has a great passing game, he has very good technique."
So with those particular attributes, what kind of influence is the German coach talking about? He's talking "killer passes, maybe finishing things off himself, getting into the box and maybe provoking or getting a penalty, and just things that really have influence on the outcome of the game."
In 19 international appearances, Torres has yet to score.
Klinsmann indicated that he plans on giving Torres significant opportunities to develop into the driving playmaker the Stars and Stripes could use. The coaching staff and Torres "constantly talk" about areas to improve. Now it's time to grow up, move out and buy a ring.
"We want him to take more ownership of this whole thing," Klinsmann said.
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