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Disparate Backs, Equitable Returns: The Rise of Jorge Torres Nilo and Severo Meza

Severo Meza has locked down the El Tri right back spot with his exceptional play over the past month.
Severo Meza has locked down the El Tri right back spot with his exceptional play over the past month.

In football loving nations, being called up to the national team is quite the honor. The immense competition provides for a squad composed of the cream of the crop. In Mexico, this is certainly the case. New waves of players come up and challenge for positions. Yet, on occasion, a player locks down his spot on the roster for the foreseeable future. Their play is so stellar that all competition for that position effectively ceases to exist. In that vein, both ends of the Mexican back line are now set. While great play has secured the spot for both of these men, their paths to this height have been utterly disparate.

Jorge Torres Nilo’s ascent to a regular on the national team has been a surprise to no one. From Tijuana, Torres Nilo came up through the vaunted Atlas’ youth system. He was tagged as an up and coming player at an early age. Torres Nilo appeared for the U-17 and U-23 national teams, and made his debut with Atlas at the age of 18. He would go on to spend four years with Atlas, becoming a stalwart defender for the club. At 20, he was first called up to the senior national team. He achieved enough success with Atlas that they were able to cash in and sell him off to Tigres in 2010.

Torres Nilo is currently the defensive anchor of the Tigres squad. Their manager, Tuca Ferretti, employs a highly defensive approach. Tigres use a large amount of pressing throughout a match to wear their opponents down, force errant passes, and stifle their offensive build-up. This requires defenders that can cover plenty of ground, are in peak physical condition, and possess the skill to work as a unit with their fellow defenders. Basically, it requires a Torres Nilo. Chepo de la Torre recognized this play and has confirmed him as the regular left back for El Tri. In the friendly with Brazil on June 3rd, Torres Nilo stifled and frustrated Hulk (an apt name for the guy) for the entirety of the match. This was no minor feat. A job well done and a spot well earned.

Not counting Meza’s immediate family members, few envisioned him securing the regular right back spot for El Tri. From Veracruz, he has spent the entirety of his career with Monterrey and their youth squad. He received little fanfare through his early career, never featuring in any of the national youth sides. Frankly, outside of Monterrey he wasn’t very well known until a few months ago.

On May 27, 2012, Severo Meza made his appearance for El Tri. This came as quite the surprise to many. The soon-to-be 26 year-old had never even made the roster before. Meza quickly demonstrated why Chepo had confidence in him. In the friendlies with Wales and Bosnia, Meza played strong and staked his claim to the right back spot. In the friendly against Brazil, he simply destroyed anyone else’s claim to the position. Meza was vital to Mexico’s clean sheet against the Brazilian side. His performance matching up against the world-class Neymar and effectively shutting him down opened more than a few eyes. Meza’s stellar play even earned him a souvenir from the Brazilian. A job well done and a spot well earned.

Torres Nilo is a large, physical left back. Meza is a slight, quick right back. In so many ways they are different from one another. Yet, they are both incredible defenders. They both can get forward and deliver a great cross. They both excel for their respective Monterrey club teams. They both will be major factors in any future successes for El Tri.