Efrain Alvarez - LA Galaxy - March 2, 2019
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Berhalter on Efrain Alvarez: "There will be an opportunity" with USMNT

The US national team are no strangers to dual-nationals, especially when it come to those also eligible for Mexico.

The latest to come along looks to be LA Galaxy midfielder Efrain Alvarez. The 16-year-old, who assisted in and sparked LA’s 2-1 comeback win over the Chicago Fire last weekend, has represented both countries at the youth national team level.

In a press conference Wednesday, USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter expressed interest in Alvarez playing for his side, even though the youngster's recent international experience have come with the Concacaf rival.  

“It would be great that [Alvarez] continues to chip away, get playing time, and be a consistent performer for one of the top clubs in MLS,” Berhalter said. “We’ll be there watching the whole thing. When he is doing what we expect him to do, there will be an opportunity for him with the US national team.

“Regarding a potential choice for him, we want to create an environment that players want to be in,” Berhalter continued. “We want to create a playing style and team spirit that players want to be a part of. And if we do, we are confident that we can get players like that and keep players like that in our program.”

A recent report from ESPN’s Herculez Gomez said Mexico is trying to secure Alvarez’s services for this summer’s Gold Cup. Playing in an official competition would cap tie the Homegrown Player and remove the possibility of a one-time switch.

Should Alvarez suit up for the US – something he seems open to – Berhalter hopes to provide clear direction.

“I have been very clear about laying out expectations: expectations for performance, expectations for how we want to play; expectations for the culture we want to introduce on the team,” Berhalter said. “Like I mentioned, the guys are open to it. It seems like that are coming from their clubs, they are coming from all different backgrounds and playing styles and cultures and philosophies, and what they want is for it to be unified and from them to have a clear direction to build from.”

Alvarez, a native of East Los Angeles, played extensively with the Galaxy’s academy before signing a first-team contract in March 2018. He spent last season with their USL Championship side, LA Galaxy II, scoring 12 times in 18 appearances. 

However the decision goes, it’s unlikely Alvarez features in the USMNT’s upcoming camp, the first time Berhalter will have a full squad at his disposal. Upcoming matches are scheduled for March 21 vs. Ecuador in Orlando and March 26 vs. Chile in Houston. 

In Berhalter’s inaugural January camp, European players weren’t available since it fell outside of an official FIFA window.

“I have said all along that this is an opportunity to get the guys from Europe some game time and to get them back in the States and working together,” Berhalter said. “We haven’t had that opportunity so far, so we are looking forward to that.”


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