CARSON, Calif. – The Alvarez clan was unmistakable Sunday afternoon in the Home Depot Center tunnel.
Rookie midfielder Carlos Alvarez stood in the middle, surrounded by seven family members, as the elated group posed for photographs. The subject of the camera flashes was the only one not wearing a Chivas USA No. 20 jersey.
About half an hour earlier, Alvarez had done the last name on that jersey proud, scoring a heroic, game-tying goal in his MLS debut.
“Yes, I’ve dreamed that one day I would score a goal as a professional,” Alvarez told reporters following a 1-1 draw against the LA Galaxy in the season’s first edition of the SuperClasico. “It happened, but, in the end, it’s all about the team. It was a team effort; I was just fortunate enough to be the goalscorer.”
Alvarez and Carlos Borja were halftime substitutes for manager José Luis “El Chelís” Sánchez Solá, who hoped to find a spark after Joaquín Velázquez’s ejection put Chivas USA a man down just before the break.
But when Jack McBean gave the Galaxy a 1-0 lead in the 83rd minute, the Rojiblancos seemed destined for their second defeat in three matches. Yet, with time running out and at a numerical disadvantage, Chivas USA capitalized on the slightest of opportunities.
“I saw Borja crossing the ball,” Alvarez recalled. “With [Juan] Agudelo running to the first post, I had to run to the back post. I was there and just pushed it in.”
Galaxy goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini lunged but had no chance to stop Alvarez, who promptly took off for the corner where his club's supporters roared. The 22-year-old sought out his father, Crecencio, and his mother, Alicia, along with his five siblings.
“I’m a family guy and I’m thankful I’m back here in Los Angeles next to them,” said Alvarez, who played collegiate soccer at UConn before becoming the No. 2 overall selection in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft.
During preseason training camp, Chelís acknowledged he needed to remain patient with Alvarez as he adjusted to the professional ranks. On Sunday, the coach was pleased with his rookie's progress.
“We, as an institution, should feel fortunate to have him,” said Chelís.