El Salvador happily welcome Fire's Arturo Alvarez back after 2-year absence

HOUSTON – Arturo Alvarez is one of El Salvador’s most prominent internationals abroad, notching eight goals and 11 assists over the last two years for the Chicago Fire.

It might seem that a player with that kind of quality should be a mainstay with La Selecta, currently listed at No. 99 in FIFA’s World Rankings, but that hasn’t been the case.

Alvarez, 32, made first appearance for Los Custacatlecos since October 2015 in Sunday’s 1-0 friendly win over Canada at BBVA Compass Stadium, a benefit for victims of Hurricane Harvey.

The Houston native couldn’t have scripted his return any better. After two years away from his national team, Alvarez not only got to play in front of his hometown crowd, but he also wore the captain’s armband and played the pass before the assist on the game-winning goal.

Alvarez was all smiles after the restart to his international career.

“I’m happy to have returned to the national team, especially here in Houston where I was born and where I grew up,” he said postgame. “And also because of the result that we got here today against Canada. We knew they weren’t going to be an easy rival.”

His teammates were just as joyful to have the creative Alvarez back on the pitch for them.

“He’s an important player for us,” El Salvador defender Bryan Tamacas said. “He demonstrated it today on the field, that with a couple of touches he can make a play and get you a one-on-one vs. the ‘keeper. It’s good for us to have a player like him. We were missing him.”

Midfielder Dustin Corea shared his teammates' sentiments and added to the praise.

“Arturo is playing at a high level that the MLS is and he shows that he’s at that high level because of the things he does on the field,” Borgas said. “I think the national team was missing Arturo, and Arturo the national team.”

So is Alvarez’s La Selecta return permanent, or just a one-game stint?

“I’m happy to be back,” Alvarez said. “And as long as coach [Eduardo] Lara keeps needing me, I’ll be here.”