Jose Francisco Torres, one of the stars of the United States Men's National Team's comeback 2-1 victory against Turkey at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday afternoon, credits midfield partner Michael Bradley with helping him become a better defender.
The creative Pachuca player has never struggled with his offensive game, but the American coaching staff prizes two-way midfielders. Torres, who played the second half against the Crescent Stars, demonstrated a new tenacity when challenging for the ball. (He also delivered some hard tackles in Tuesday night's fixture with the Czech Republic.)
"I've tried to work on that a lot," he told Goal.com after the match. "The coaches always tell me to close gaps, to win balls, to win tackles. I learned a lot watching Michael [Bradley] play. He's a great defending player. He goes forward; he comes back. Watching him on the bench, you learn. He goes to one tackle, and he's already immediately back on the other one. I watched a few videos [of him]."
When asked about Torres' development as a player, Bradley refused to take any credit.
"As a midfielder in today's game, you want to be the complete package," he said. "Whether it's me or Jose or anyone. When you play in the midfield you have to be able to do everything: run, pass, attack, defend."
The Bundesliga star isn't the only player Torres seeks out for advice. He also looks up to Clint Dempsey.
"I look up to him for whatever I'm doing," he said. "He's from Texas, where I'm from. I get along. He's my roommate. He's my brother, you know?"
In fact, the 22 year old who earned his first cap in October, 2008, credits the entire American squad for helping him develop.
"There are a lot of guys who are experienced players," Torres said. "I like to learn everyday. I get along with everybody on the team."
U.S. manager Bob Bradley didn't offer specific advice to his midfielder before sending him on to the field for the second half, but Torres knows his role.
"All he does is tell me to get on the ball, release it quick, and try to close gaps," he said. "Try get the flow of the game going."
On Saturday, Torres certainly succeeded.
Noah Davis (@noahedavis) covers the United States Men's National Team for Goal.com and will be reporting from the World Cup in South Africa.
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