Chicharito: Efrain Alvarez's golazo shows why he's a "diamond" but he "needs to learn"

Efrain Alvarez is one of the biggest young talents in MLS, and on Wednesday evening the LA Galaxy midfielder showed exactly why.

The 19-year-old homegrown rifled home a left-footed winner in the 93rd minute of a 2-1 win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC, sealing three road points for the five-time MLS Cup champions. Alvarez took one touch to settle, then picked out the top corner to beat goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau, canceling out Vancouver’s equalizer through Janio Bikel moments earlier.

Asked about the play postgame, LA striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez heaped on the praise and was honest about expectations he holds for the teenager.

“That’s the talent and the quality that Efrain has,” Chicharito told Spectrum SportsNet's Nikki Kay. “That’s why I’m the first one who expects a lot of him because he’s a diamond. He needs to improve a lot, he needs to learn. He’s very young, but I always tell him that he’s a national team player. We need to expect [a] national team player’s performance like today when he came into the pitch or when sometimes he starts.”

Memorably, former Galaxy striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic spoke with reverence for Alvarez during the 2019 season. Ibrahimovic called him “by far the biggest talent” in MLS, a remark that caught plenty of attention considering the Swede’s illustrious career.

Chicharito’s similar tone comes with a Mexico national team perspective, as he’s El Tri’s all-time leading scorer with 52 goals through 109 games. Alvarez hasn’t formally committed to Mexico, but made his senior-team debut during a March 2021 friendly against Costa Rica. The Los Angeles native has featured for US youth national teams, too.

“That’s what all the LA Galaxy club and family expects from him,” Hernandez added after Alvarez’s wonder strike. “It’s like put all the effort, put all the talent – and then sometimes you can play good games, you can play bad games, it’s part of [being] a professional. But at least you need to play like [the] national team player he is, so just today is a reminder for him and for all of us of the talent that he has.”

Alvarez’s golazo against Vancouver was his first tally of the year. He now has two goals and five assists across 38 career MLS games.