This player report is part of the Scouting in South America series. The final part of the search for talent in Ecuador is about José Hurtado. The Independiente del Valle right-back had a big impact on the title-winning season of Independiente del Valle. In this player report, you can read more about José Hurtado. The previous player report was about Sebastián González.
José Hurtado is a 19-year-old Ecuadorian defender, who is currently playing for Independiente del Valle in the Liga Pro. He is a right-footed right wing-back and joined the famous Independiente del Valle youth academy in 2018 after playing for the Selección de Santo Domingo (his birthplace) until 2017.
Independiente del Valle play in a 3–4–1–2 formation with two attacking-minded wing-backs. In possession, the wing-backs are given the license to get forward and operate as wingers. Independiente del Valle have a possession-based style and put high pressure on the opponent after losing the ball. They are currently sitting in first place in the second stage of the Liga Pro and were knocked out in the semi-finals of the Copa Libertadores by RB Bragantino.
In both the first and last phase of the build-up, Hurtado provides width for his team. In the first phase of the build-up, this often means that he offers a solution for his teammates when Independiente del Valle are put under high pressure. By staying near the touchline, Hurtado is always in space when the ball is on the other side of the pitch.
When Independiente del Valle build it out from the back without being put under pressure, Hurtado usually operates in the same line as the two holding midfielders. When Hurtado receives the ball around the halfway line, he does not take any risks and usually plays a back pass to the right central defender (either Carabajal or Landazuri).
Hurtado operates as a right-winger whenever Independiente del Valle have all outfield players on the opposition’s half. He does not actively make many runs in behind and always provides width for his team, as you can see in the image down below. When he receives the ball in that area, Hurtado usually goes for an early cross, back pass or he takes on his opponent.
When he takes on opponents, Hurtado shows good changes of direction and good, quick feints. He wrong-foots his opponent quite often and can get past his opponent by doing that. However, he sometimes seems indecisive in the 1v1’s which leads to him not having enough tempo in his actions. In that situation, the opponent can defend him quite easily. Most times, Hurtado succeeds in getting past his opponent though.
Hurtado has a really good crossing technique and always looks over the ball before putting in a cross. In the Liga Pro, Hurtado averages 4.57 crosses per 90 minutes and has a 39,8% accuracy (WyScout). In the Copa Libertadores, the Ecuadorian wing-back made 3 key passes per game (SofaScore), most of them coming from crosses. The 19-year-old needs to be more consistent in his crossing though, his crosses sometimes are too deep into the box which leads to the ball going out for a throw-in.
As mentioned above, when Hurtado receives the ball in a deeper position, he usually goes for a simple back pass, takes on his opponent or gives an early cross. You can see an example of the latter down below. He receives the ball, looks up and puts in a great cross to José Angulo who fails to head the ball towards the goal.
I mentioned before that Hurtado is not that active in making runs (without the ball) when Independiente del Valle are building it out from the back patiently. However, when they recover possession and have a counter attack, Hurtado is really active in making runs in behind. The 19-year-old is quick in transitioning from defence to attack and creates the most danger in these situations.
He times his runs in behind very well, as you can see in the image down below where he seems to be just onside. Hurtado makes sure to start a third-man run when someone passes it into the (in this example) striker, who then is tasked to play a first-time through pass to Hurtado.
While he does only provide width for Independiente del Valle when they are building it out from the back, he can make runs on both the inside and outside for Independiente del Valle when they are on the counter-attack. When running down the line with the ball, it is hard for the opponent to take the ball off Hurtado as he is quite strong on the ball, even though he does not seem to have the biggest build.
The Ecuadorian wing-back has a really good technique, as many players that came through the Independiente del Valle youth academy. His first touch is good both under pressure and without pressure on him. Hurtado is really composed on the ball and capable of carrying the ball inside as well. His timing of doing this is good, as he starts carrying the ball inside whenever an Independiente del Valle midfielder creates space for him by making a run towards the touchline.
In the image down below, it can be seen that Hurtado has carried the ball inside. He spots his teammate and is capable of playing through passes to his teammates. Hurtado has good vision and always wants to have the ball.
Heading over to his defending ability, and this is where he still has some difficulties. Let’s start with the positive aspects of his playing style. Hurtado has a lot of pace and is quick on the first meters as well. In the image down below, Independiente del Valle just lost possession on their own half. Hurtado is quick in transitioning from attack to defence and immediately tracks back.
He overtakes Piovi and recovers possession for Independiente del Valle really easily, despite not being in an ideal starting position as he was close to the touchline because Independiente del Valle were building it out from the back.
As Independiente del Valle play in a 3–4–1–2, Hurtado often is tasked to put pressure high up the pitch as he always has Carabajal or Landazuri covering his back. This means that he has a lot of freedom and often puts pressure on the full-back of the opponent. He is quite aggressive in doing so and sometimes makes an unnecessary foul in these situations.
His positioning when the opponent puts in a cross is good. He often checks his shoulders and makes sure to mark his opponent. Even though he is not the tallest, I think he is not bad in the aerial duels as he has good timing. Hurtado is strong in the 50/50 duels and his aggressiveness helps him in these ground duels.
As Independiente del Valle play attacking football, the opponents are often only capable of counter-attacking. This means that the Independiente del Valle defenders always have a lot of space in their back. Hurtado deals with this by trying to cut passing lanes and the communication with Carabajal/Landazuri (RCB) is good as the RCB tracks the run of the opponent’s attacker.
In the image down below you can see that Hurtado checks his shoulders and spots the run of (I think) Jhojan Julio. He cuts the passing lane while Carabajal tracks the run of Julio. This makes it harder for the player in possession to play the through pass and in the end it is easily defended by Independiente del Valle.
The main weakness of José Hurtado is defending the 1v1’s. The Ecuadorian wing-back is quick and agile and too often relies on this. Against wingers who are quick on the first meters, are agile and use a lot of quick feints, Hurtado really struggles. He usually gets wrong-footed by those wingers and then gets dribbled past quite easily.
Granted, he does not get into many 1v1’s because of Independiente del Valle’s playing style, but this is something that he needs to work on if he wants to play as a full-back in one of European’s biggest leagues. Hurtado should look at the ball more instead of the opponent and he should be more composed.
Hurtado has a lot of potential but he needs to work on his consistency in his final pass. Also, Hurtado needs to be less indecisive at times and quicker in his actions when taking on an opponent. However, the most important weakness that he needs to work on is defending 1v1’s.
I would like to see the right wing-back playing under Marcelo Gallardo at River Plate and think he would be a great replacement for Gonzalo Montiel. He fits the system and would be affordable for the South American giants. Hurtado would be able to work on his weaknesses in Argentina and this could be a stepping stone to a mid-table La Liga club, which I think is his ceiling.