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Berhalter advised Alvarez to go to Mexico camp to help with his national team decision


U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Gregg Berhalter has had impressive success with convincing dual nationals to play for the USMNT, with Sergino Dest and now Yunus Musah the big additions to a stacked generation of young talent.

That success has given Berhalter plenty of confidence in how he handles recruitment, which might explain the confidence shown in his decision to advise LA Galaxy midfielder Efrain Alvarez to go with the Mexican national team for its March friendlies so he could compare the setup with the USMNT, which he spent time with during the team’s December camp.

“I have spoken to him about it, and I advocated for him to go on with the Mexican team,” Berhalter said on Wednesday. “And the reason being is that he’s been in our environment and I think the only way for him to make an informed decision is to go into their environment.”

The 18-year-old Los Angeles-born midfielder has represented Mexico on the youth national team level on the U-17 and U-20 levels after having initially played for the United States on the U-15 level. His acceptance of a USMNT call-up in December revealed that he had yet to make a final national team decision, and while some took his acceptance of a Mexico call-up for the March friendlies as a sign that he had made a final decision, a source confirmed to SBI that Alvarez has yet to make a final national team decision.

Berhalter’s decision to advise Alvarez to join Mexico’s national team setup might seem like a risky proposition, but it is in line with how Berhalter has handled past dual national situations.

“We’ve always said that all we want to do is put the players in position to make the best possible decision they can make, and some players are going to choose for us and some players aren’t going to choose for us,” Berhalter said. “When you talk about the emotion of the decision, we want to take some of that emotion out of it by letting him have objective data of what the environments are like and being able to compare them.

“We wish him all the best in this camp. I’m sure I’ll follow up with him after the camp.”

Alvarez has been included in Mexico’s squad for upcoming friendlies in Europe against Costa Rica and Wales.


  1. If he was born here, plays for LA here, played on youth teams HERE and he still doesnt know? Just go. We certainly have many that are proud to play for the USA. We certainly dont need him. See if Mexico wants you…… gringo

    • Really, he is Mexico’s to lose. He must file a one-time request to change to the USA, he is not ours to lose. GB understands this. It would be beyond silly for GB to tell him not to answer this call-up for Mexico and the height of arrogance. Better to tell him we would like you, but go see how things compare between the USA and Mexico. Mexico is the only one than can lose him.

  2. I tried this with a girlfriend. I don’t want to talk about how that went. Suffice it to say it was not a good risk, for me. I think it’s all in the delivery. Yoda could do it (Luke came back). GB might be able to do it. His powers of persuasion are greater than mine. I’m gonna give him the benefit of the doubt.

  3. Obviously I could be wrong, but I don’t rate Alvarez as highly as guys like Dest and Musah. Plus he plays a position where we have a lot of depth. If we don’t get him I don’t think it’s that big a deal. I think the young Galaxy defender Arajao has better potential, for example.

  4. Smart strategy. Acknowledges that the USSF only has so much control over the situation. You become a trusted adviser, show you’re invested in the player’s future, and underscore confidence and belief in the environment that you’ve created, so much so that you advise them to try out a different environment. Can’t praise GGG, Brian McBride and the USSF enough for how they’ve turned the corner here after a dark period where it looked like they were doing nothing.

  5. I could see this working either way depending on how the message is delivered and where the player’s head is at. It could easily be taken as “I guess they just aren’t that interested in me,” especially because it is the USMNT’s biggest rival. But, if GB can convey that he really does have their best interests at heart, it could be a winning pitch. One good thing it does do is erase any doubt about whether a person really does want to play for the U.S.

  6. It’s up to Alvarez to decide where his motivation lies – I don’t envy him having to make such a difficult decision.
    Gregg’s interaction with everybody on the roster is next level and is going to be a big boost in coalescing this group.

    • can we win a tough game before lauding the man with north korean style praise?
      sorry, but historically we have not acted like the players had a choice, encouraged them to shop. you wanna come play for us? we want you. why are we making mexico’s sales pitch for it?
      he has been with mexico for several years in their pipeline. we require a switch. they require nothing more than inertia. they may offer him senior team now. why on earth would you send him back to think some more?
      to me if you make the players feel wanted and offer a team as good as we do, the decision takes care of itself.

      • How can we “risk” losing a player we don’t have? I like berhalters approach for a couple reasons. For one, applying too much pressure on the kid when he’s not ready may only push him into the arms of Mexico permanently. A take it or leave it offer is actually a much much bigger risk. We don’t have to get him today, but we are still an option. If we force a decision before he’s ready we’re likely to get rejected. It’s a process.
        Also, from a pure human perspective this is right. Let this kid work out a major decision in his life on his time. Why must we have him immediately?

      • The US cannot “lose him”, we don’t have him. He must file a one-time change with FIFA to play for the US and have Mexico lose him.

    • “If you make the players feel wanted and offer a team as good as we do, the decision takes care of itself”
      Good, so you agree with Gregg

      • no, because we didn’t call him up. we told him go try the other team if you want. that is as passive as you can get. i’m then watching people argue that his dual national game is “next level” right when he may be losing a player. i get musah praise but apparently to listen to y’all all praise to Dear Leader for securing the services of a player who had a string of USA (dest), which is like holding serve. yes, orwellian, north korea stuff. reality is soto is shopping, akinola is shopping, efrain was in camp and is back shopping, whole lot of people shopping around when 2026 should be a juggernaut and the easiest sports car in the world to sell.

      • as i argued above, i don’t find kreis saying “we don’t know what to make of him,” paraphrasing, to be a coordinated charm campaign. not calling someone senior and having the U23 coach act ambivalent is not making him feel wanted. and in case people forgot he has to make a switch to go any further. maybe if i sit on my hands here i will be the greatest soccer coach with all the best players…..

    • Nice Trumpian move to take half of a quote and use it out of context. Your partial quote was in relation to way he hasn’t seen more success with LAG. “We continue to let Efrain know we support him and that we’d like him to be part of the USMNT program.” Berhalter said he brings things that no one else in the pool can do. Alvarez knows what Berhalter and Kreis think of him.

      • Sorry it was Kreis who said quote “Gregg and I both feel this is player that has some potential, some tools that arguably nobody else in the national team pool has. And so he becomes very, very interesting for us.” This was after saying after working with Efra in Jan. Camp that it was “eye-opening”.

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