Chalk one up for Tata Martino in the hot pursuit of LA Galaxy dual-national Efrain Alvarez.
The 18-year-old made his long-anticipated debut for the Mexican national team Tuesday, making a late substitute appearance in a 1-0 win over Costa Rica in an international friendly in Austria Tuesday.
Born in Los Angeles to Mexican parents, Alvarez has featured for both Mexico and the United States on the youth level, though playing for El Tri in the 2019 U-17 World Cup, an official FIFA competition, has linked him to Mexico unless he makes a one-time switch. He was named on both country’s preliminary roster for Concacaf Olympic Qualifying, although he didn’t compete for either.
Alvarez was called into USMNT camp in December and Gregg Berhalter told reporters in a video conference call earlier in March he “advocated” for him to join Martino’s camp for international friendlies against Wales and Costa Rica.
“The reason being is that he’s been in our environment, and I think the only way for him to make an informed decision is to go into their environment,” Berhalter said.
Alvarez came on for Jesus Corona in the 81st minute of a scoreless draw Tuesday. Hirving Lozano scored the decisive goal one minute from full time.
“Efrain is a very young boy who is always good to be around, to know how he trains, how he thinks, even though he played 15 minutes, he did well,” Martino said after the match. “He entered a difficult moment and you have to think we found the goal with Diego [Lainez] and Efrain on the field, two very young boys and that is a positive aspect.”
While Alvarez isn’t tied to Mexico yet, it’s likely a decision he will have to make in the near future ahead of a busy international calendar that includes the Concacaf Gold Cup.