Efrain Alvarez - close-up
USA Today Sports

USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter impressed by LA Galaxy youngster Efrain Alvarez, leaving "open door" for US switch

For the US men's national team's final camp of the year, head coach Gregg Berhalter has again decided to use the occasion as an opportunity to recruit dual nationals and introduce them to the team environment. This month's roster has several players who could represent multiple national teams, but at the top of that group is the LA Galaxy's Efrain Alvarez, who has represented both the US and Mexico as a youth international.

"What I saw today in training is [that] he’s a guy you want to be around the ball, a very creative player, has a good change of pace, very good in tight spaces," Berhalter said in a press conference Tuesday. "To me, it was a really interesting training to watch him and I can see him in an attacking midfield role, in a winger role, even in the No. 9 role because of the way we’ve been using the No. 9 at times. To me, he’s a quality player."

Berhalter spoke about the player's development since making his Galaxy debut in 2019, something that helped him land his first call up to the senior US national team.

"What I've seen from him is a maturity, a development as a player over this last year," Berhalter said. "He looks much more physically fit, he's able to impact games for longer this season. It was unfortunate he didn't play more."

Though Alvarez took the trip to south Florida ahead of the team's final match of the year against El Salvador on December 9, he will not make his USMNT debut. Berhalter said Alvarez has not yet begun the process of filing a one time switch and is not eligible to play. The goal of the invitation, though, is to get him and the other dual nationals familiar with the team's environment.

"You’re talking about players with cultural ties to other countries where emotion is involved. I can understand a player making a decision like that one time in his career," Berhalter said. "For us, all it's about is saying there is an open door and we want to create an environment players want to be in, we want to attract good quality players and the rest is up to the player to decide. It’s up to the player and his family to decide in the end what they’re going to pursue."