While high-profile player moves made headlines over the summer, a likely reinforcement from Mexico flew under the radar.
Nearly three weeks ago, Luis Alvarez joined Chivas USA. Due to a roster freeze, Alvarez cannot be added to the club's roster but he has been training with the Red-and-White since Sept. 27.
Alvarez, who turned 24 on Oct. 4, is excited about the opportunity to play in Major League Soccer.
"For me, it's preferable to play wherever but more so here in this country," Alvarez said. "I am not familiar with American soccer and I would like to familiarize myself with it."
In 2003, Alvarez joined Mexican Primera Division side Tigres but did not make his debut until Jan. 22, 2005. He made seven appearances and started two games for Tigres during the Clausura 2005 season. Alvarez, however, played a larger role in Tigres' Copa Libertadores campaign. In the group phase, Alvarez started twice but by the knockout rounds he had secured a spot in the starting 11. Alvarez played in all of Tigres second-round and quarterfinal matches.
Over the summer, Chivas de Guadalajara picked up Alvarez with likely intentions of sending him to MLS - Alvarez said he knew within two weeks of the move that he was destined for Chivas USA. Visa problems however delayed Alvarez's arrival and might have cost him a spot on the 2005 club.
Nevertheless, Alvarez has embraced his new club.
"I'm very happy here," Alvarez said. "Despite their bad season, this is a good club with great aspirations. I'm happy because they have that mentality."
A central defender by trade, Alvarez could give Chivas USA much-needed experience along its beleaguered and unstable backline. In coach Hans Westerhof's scheme, the sweeper is a key element. The club went through seven players this season trying to find an answer at that position.
Conceivably, Alvarez could fix that hole. He has already gotten an early jump on next year's preseason and played a solid 45 minutes in Sunday's Chivas Select friendly against Mexican side Santos in Santa Barbara. With experienced players such as Ramon Ramirez and Hector "Pirata" Castro surrounding him, Alvarez could provide more stability down the middle of the pitch.
Even though Chivas has suffered through a dismal season, Alvarez said the club has a strong foundation.
"The most important thing they already have: a positive attitude and a mentality geared towards success," Alvarez said.
In terms of leagues, Alvarez said he favors playing in MLS over the Mexican first division.
"This league has sent a lot of players to Europe," Alvarez said. "That's just more motivation to play here."
Luis Bueno is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.