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Efrain Alvarez makes Mexico debut in friendly win


Efrain Alvarez remains a possible option for the U.S. Men’s National Team in the near future, but the young forward did make his senior international debut for its biggest rivals on Tuesday.

Alvarez came off the bench to play the final 23 minutes in Mexico’s 1-0 friendly win over Concacaf rivals Costa Rica on Tuesday night. It was the dual-national’s first senior appearance in whole after representing both El Tri and the United States at youth level.

“Efrain is a very young boy who is always good to be around, to know how he trains, how he thinks, even though he played 15 minutes, he did well,” Mexico head coach Tata Martino said after the match. “He entered a difficult moment and you have to think we found the goal with Diego [Lainez] and Efrain on the field, two very young boys and that is a positive aspect.”

The 18-year-old helped El Tri to a friendly win, its first of 2021 ahead of a busy competitive schedule later this year. Alvarez was named both the U.S. and Mexico’s Olympic Qualifying rosters earlier this year, but did not feature for either.

El Tri clinched a spot in the Tokyo Olympics this summer after winning the competition while the Americans lost to Honduras 2-1 in the semifinals, missing out on the Olympics for the fourth time in the past five tries.

Alvarez did appear in the USMNT’s December camp in 2020 and head coach Gregg Berhalter advised him to head to El Tri camp this month to compare his experiences.

“I have spoken to him about it, and I advocated for him to go on with the Mexican team,” Berhalter said earlier this month to reporters. “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.”

A product of the L.A. Galaxy Youth System, Alvarez has made 30 combined league appearances for the first team since debuting in 2019.


  1. I’ll offer a wild-ass theory and it’s just that– a wild-ass theory. The Imperative Voice asks: you ever ask yourself why the team that used to have a world class keeper assembly line doesn’t anymore?

    Could it be that we had goalies that played multiple sports including basketball, football, baseball perhaps, all casually if not seriously growing up. Those skills translated well into making them world-class goalkeepers as they developed. Just a wild-ass theory. I don’t know if in today’s world of specialization we have kids having time to play multiple sports and goalie is a position where you can see those skills benefitting both hand-eye, footwork, and jumping

  2. Alvarez will eventually make a choice. There is little the US can do other than offer the kind of environmentthat he would prefer to play in. GB seems to recognize that Alvarez is Mexico’s to lose and is doing his best to be charming. But there is no real “leverage” he the US has. I do think it would be good to invite him to train with the team when it contains the US European contingent, but am not sure there is really an opportunity to do that if Tata calls him for the Nations League or Gold Cup.

    • little? we were starting 20 year olds for our friendly, we couldn’t have picked him instead? we couldn’t have offered the same thing as they did? we couldn’t have made more effort than “go kick the other guy’s tires?” tepid stuff.

      • All you know is that he didn’t attend our camp you have no idea if he was asked or not. Accepting the call up for Mexico required nothing of Efra, accepting a US call up would have made his decision final.

  3. I’m not sure we’re going to win this one. There seems to be a tendency for Mexican-Americans to favor Mexico, while we’ve done pretty well with dual nationals from Europe and even South America. If that’s going to be the way things go moving forward, I suppose I’d be okay with that — but I certainly had hoped Alvarez would declare for us. I think — while not a sure starter by any conceivable means — he’d add something to the team no one else can offer. I suppose there’s still time and, really, him playing in this friendly doesn’t change anything. Perhaps there’s still a chance. I’ve got my fingers crossed but I’m not holding my breath.

  4. For those who didn’t see the game,CR did well in the first 20 or 30 minutes, creating some chances and putting Mexico under some pressure. However, after that Mexico pretty much dominated, hit the post or cross bar several times and you knew it was only a matter of time until they scored. The winner came about the 88th minute courtesy of Lozano. The good news for the US is that Costa Rica is still relying on its old war horses–Joel Campbell, Brian Ruiz, and Kendal Waston. They still have Navas in goal, but I don’t think they are as dangerous as in the past.

    • CRC is still the only team in CONCACAF that knows how to deal with Mexico…but boy are they getting long in the tooth at a lot of spots.

      • Navas is the difference if you look at US vs CR the last 5 years if he plays they win, if he doesn’t US wins. Having a WC goalkeeper makes up for a lot.

      • you ever ask yourself why the team that used to have a world class keeper assembly line doesn’t anymore?

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