It looks like the LA Galaxy has a star in the making in Efrain Alvarez. The youngster collected an assist shortly after coming off the bench for his senior professional debut.
Every soccer prospect dreams of climbing up through the academy system and making his professional debut with the senior team. Los Angles native Efrain Alvarez did just that … and he is only 16.
The MLS 2019 season kicked off this weekend and the LA Galaxy hosted the Chicago Fire in their home opener on Saturday night. At the hour mark, the teenager was summoned off the bench by coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto and sent onto the pitch, getting rapturous applause from the home fans.
The entry marked his senior professional debut. He is 16 years, 9 months old.
To the delight of Galaxy fans, only 8 minutes after coming on, Alvarez got loose down the right flank, swiveled his hips to get his favored left foot on the ball and lofted a sublime cross to teammate Daniel Steres, who snapped home a header from 5 meters.
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The goal came at a very important time as the hosts were losing 1-0 and searching for quality on the ball. And the youngster provided some.
The hosts went on to win the game 2-1 thanks to Swedish superstar Zlatan Ibrahimović who secured the winner, knocking home a rebound in the goal mouth. The captain had been talking to the press a lot heading into the season opener, and Zlatan spoke glowingly about Alvarez in particular, lavishing praise on the youngster.
Alvarez signed with the LA Galaxy youth team shortly after his 15th birthday in August 2017, and became the youngest player to appear in a USL match just two month after signing. He was invited to training camp by the Galaxy last year, but was sent back to the junior team. This year, he made the senior roster.
Growing up in southern California, Alvarez had gotten the attention of both the US Men’s National Team youth system and Mexico’s National Soccer Federation (FMF). He played for the USMNT at the start, but shortly after signing with the LA Galaxy, he chose to switch to Mexico and has played with the Under-15s and the Under-17s.
However until he turns 18, Alvarez can still choose to switch back to the USMNT, and given his stellar performance on his debut, it is likely that Mexico and the US will be fighting for his services.
When taken in conjunction with Jonathan Gonzalez’s decision to switch from Team USA to Mexico, the FMF is feeling delighted that kids are showing preference for Mexico over the US. Gonzalez – a 19-year-old midfielder for Monterrey in Liga MX – switched to Mexico from the US in January 2018.
Whichever country Alvarez chooses to represent, it is clear that he has a very promising career ahead of him and could quickly become a super star in the MLS. Surely it will not be too long before one of the top European clubs starts paying attention to him.