After struggling to come up with a subject to write about for The Gold Rush this week, watching Wednesday night's CCL clash between Tigres and Real Salt Lake, it hit me.
Atlanta United should sign Jose Francisco Torres. The (former?) United States international has seemingly dropped off the face of the earth the past few years. In reality he's just been steadily grinding it out for Tigres in Liga MX while falling out of favor with Jurgen Klinsmann and the USMNT.
Appearing 26 times for the U.S. national team, "El Gringo" as he's affectionately known in Mexico as, has international pedigree and name recognition even if he's been out of the picture for a few years.
I've always wanted to see Torres get a chance in MLS. He's still only 28 years old even though it seems like he's been around for forever. He's a World Cup veteran under Bob Bradley in 2010 for the USA (alongside someone named Carlos Bocanegra) and he's a quality soccer player that goes under the radar. He's a predominantly left-footed player with versatility. Able to play any of the midfield spots and left back in a pinch. He's a utility player, which can be very valuable to a team.
Torres will never be considered a star player, but quality, technical players are very hard to come by. He's a type of player that could thrive in MLS where the pace of play isn't as extreme as it is in Mexico. Being able to play in the midfield and pick out passes could be the perfect situation for him if a club adapts to his smooth style.
There aren't many videos available of him online, but he's a sensational sampling of his left foot:
In all realities, Torres is not a designated player candidate. He's also not an MLS maximum salary player either. He exists in that gray area that hurts the league's chances of luring players away from Liga MX that offers more money. Now with the inclusion of Targeted Allocation Money and Allocation Money you'll likely see more borderline players like Torres giving MLS a chance now that they know they can get paid.
The easiest comparison to make to him salary-wise would be that of fellow USMNT player Mix Diskerud. NYCFC were given Allocation Money and used it to pay Diskerud's salary to get him under the maximum allowed number so he didn't qualify as a DP. Torres would be in a similar situation. $400-600k a year but bought down with Allocation Money.
His inclusion into an MLS side would offer a calming influence in the midfield and the versatility to use him in various positions on the field. His technical quality is superb and at the MLS level it would standout among his peers. Atlanta United should make it a focus to want these types of players as they add to the overall quality of play of the team.
Having a recognizable face from the USMNT, even if it's not a marque name, could be valuable even if it's just from interested onlookers wondering if he's still the player he was when he featured for the national team. His addition wouldn't draw a huge Latino following, but it couldn't hurt to have a popular Mexican-American on the inaugural roster.
Honestly, there aren't too many cons on-the-field. He would add much needed technique to the side. The only downfall is, he probably wouldn't be an impact player. It's debatable whether or not you want to spend valuable Allocation Money on a role player who will help, but not be a complete difference maker. Torres has the quality, but it could go under-appreciated if expectations are too high.
While this wouldn't be the most eye-catching signing that's ever happened, Atlanta United could greatly benefit from a tidy player like Jose Francisco Torres. He is by no means worth a Designated Player contract, but if he can be had for a respectable yearly salary, he'd be worth the money needed to sign him.
Atlanta United need quality players all over the field. Signing someone like Torres would be a good start and a great declaration of intent to play attractive and clean soccer.