Gerardo Torrado earned the name “El Borrego” (The Sheep) for his slightly wild, disheveled curly hair he sported earlier in his career.
Now the nickname would adequately fit at least a segment of Mexico fans, who seem intent on ripping apart a player that has been one of the country’s best over the last 15 years.
Torrado turned 35 on Wednesday and celebrated by putting in another one of his seven out of ten performances for Cruz Azul in its 1-1 draw against Leon. It was the kind of display that has helped his club be consistently one of the best in Mexico in recent years.
Torrado was his usual self against La Fiera, shielding the defense, intelligently using the ball and cutting out spaces for dangerous opposition players like Luis Montes and Carlos Pena to operate in.
Last week, the player who, let’s not forget, plied his trade for five years in Spain (at the level Pena, Montes, Juan Carlos Medina and many other national teamers would love to be), lifted the CONCACAF Champions League trophy after playing a key role in a masterful defensive performance by his side.
Yet when Herrera mentioned earlier in the week that it would be no surprise if Torrado (and Carlos Salcido) were in Brazil with Mexico due to their experience and track record, certain social networks were full of inflammatory remarks about the Pumas youth product.
It seems the collective memory of Mexico fans is short-lived. Torrado may be unfashionable, monotone and emotionless in interviews and almost introvert, but he remains a good player.
Let’s not make the mistake of saying that Torrado is necessarily the answer for Mexico at present in the problematic defensive midfield position. Torrado lacks the dynamism that Herrera’s tactics require, the forward drive that this version of El Tri seeks and the engine to keep up intense pressing and harrying for the full 90 minutes.
But Torrado could still do a job.
Stats show that his pass ratio has almost always been above 80 percent over the games he has played this season and you can be pretty sure that when opposition teams are analyzing how to play against Cruz Azul, Torrado isn’t one of the main elements they’ll be looking to exploit.
But what about those yellow cards that seem to come at least at the rate of one per game for Torrado? It is true he gets close to averaging one caution every two games and it does bring the risk of red cards, but Torrado has only been sent off twice in the last five years (over 150 Liga MX games) and once in over 100 appearances for the national team.
In fact, the odd strategic foul here and there when it is required to break up the game and stopping opponents moving into dangerous positions with a cynical trip is an area of the game Mexican players have struggled with compared to more successful and savvy South American nations.
This is not arguing that Torrado should be the life and soul of Mexico’s midfield this summer in Brazil, but more of a call to remember that players that aren’t necessarily aesthetically pleasing, fast and skillful also have their merit.
With the dearth of quality defensive midfielders in Mexico at present, Herrera could do much worse than select a player of Torrado’s experience and continued quality in his squad.
And if El Tri needs to hold a lead at some point, there is still no better current Mexican player to bring on.
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