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MLS Combine: Extra holiday work pays off for Alvarez

LAUDERHILL, Fla. – Carlos Alvarez, one of the most highly touted midfielders at the 2013 MLS Player Combine, didn't spend the recent holidays with his family in Los Angeles.

Instead, he stayed back in Storrs, Conn., on the campus of the University of Connecticut to work out ahead of the Combine. And his decision paid off on Friday with a goal and an assist as his Prime team came storming back to tie AdiPower 2-2 at Central Broward Regional Park.   

"It was a sacrifice I made in order to be successful," Alvarez said after the match. "I know a lot guys want to make it to the next level and I knew they were going to come out with everything, so I had to give a little but extra to perform."

It's not like Alvarez necessarily needs a strong showing at the Combine to ensure himself a place in MLS. He is one of five seniors who have already penned an MLS contract prior to the Combine. All that's left for Alvarez is to find out which team picks him up at the SuperDraft on Jan. 17 in Indianapolis.

As Alvarez put it Friday: "The coaches did their homework already and most of them know who's good, who's bad."

Alvarez, who played behind a lone forward at UConn, showed why many have him as one of the first midfielders taken in the SuperDraft. After struggling in the first half, with only flashes of class, he turned it on in the second half. First, he finished expertly after a layoff from Indiana forward Eriq Zavaleta and then he served up the equalizer to Gambian youngster Kekuta Manneh 10 minutes later. 

The East LA native didn't register the only standout performance. Maryland's John Stertzer, who scored the opening goal of Friday's match, bossed the midfield in the first half for AdiPower as part of a three-man midfield with North Carolina's Mikey Lopez and Winthrop product Alex Isern

"I always played in the middle of the field," said Stertzer, who was forced to come out of the match after taking a stinger to his left ankle from Manneh. "I'm a box-to-box player. I think I showed it today. Hopefully everyone saw that." 

Lopez, a Generation adidas product, played just one half due to an arrangement with the Under-20 national team to have him limit his minutes at the Combine ahead of an upcoming national team camp. But he still made his mark in that first half alongside Isern and Stertzer. 

"It was great chemistry," Lopez said. "It felt like we had been playing with each other for a long time even if it was our first time together."