Enticing 15-Year-Old Phenom Chose Mexico After U.S. Snub, Coach Confirms

Efrain Alvarez, 15, started in the USMNT youth setup but is now playing with Mexico.

Go ahead and add Efrain Alvarez to the list of players who got away from U.S. Soccer, which is looking increasingly inept since October. 

In a recent interview with SoccerAmerica, Mike Munoz, who coaches 15-year-old Efrain Alvarez at LA Galaxy II, said the exciting young prospect chose to defect from the USMNT youth setup to that of Mexico after the U.S. failed to include him in a camp last year. 

“Efra was dropped from the camp for whatever reason,” Munoz said. “I don't know if there was a collective decision from U.S. Soccer. ... Unfortunately when he was dropped, Mexico came knocking at the door and has been there ever since.

“Unfortunately U.S. Soccer decided he wasn't the right guy at 14 years old, maybe because he was small, or maybe because he wasn't as athletic. I don't know. Those are questions you'll have to ask U.S. Soccer. It was definitely a decision by U.S. Soccer to not bring him back in, which opened the door to Mexico.”

Efrain Alvarez is a teenage wizard for LA Galaxy II in the USL, where he became the youngest player in the history of the league back in October. He recently scored six goals in three matches in incredible fashion and you should really check them out here

Alvarez played for the U.S. U-15 team in 2016 but for whatever reason wasn’t included in a later camp. Because of this, Munoz said, Alvarez jumped at the opportunity to switch to Mexico when El Tri invited him to join their U-15 team.

Alvarez joined Mexico’s U-17 squad this month and posted a photo of himself with fellow LA Galaxy and Mexico national team members Giovani and Jonathan Dos Santos.

@lagalaxy  #lostresdelgalaxy #10 #8 #26

A post shared by Efrain Alvarez (@efrain_alvarez_10) on

Losing out on Alvarez could be yet another blow for U.S. Soccer, which is still coming to terms with missing out on this summer’s World Cup. U.S. Soccer replaced president Sunil Gulati earlier this year but has yet to find a full-time coach for the USMNT (though they did beat Bolivia 3-0 with a squad of youngsters on Monday). 

The Efrain Alvarez situation looks to be a near carbon copy of what happened with 19-year-old Jonathan Gonzalez in January. After Gonzalez was left off of a squad and U.S. Soccer failed to properly explain that the player was still in their plans, the Monterrey midfielder made a one-time switch to Mexico

Alvarez isn’t locked into playing for Mexico just yet as Gonzalez is. Alvarez is eligible to return to playing for the U.S., as 17-year-old Ulysses Llanez did recently. Llanez, another LA Galaxy II player, was called into the Mexico U-16 squad only to decide it wasn’t for him. He’s now back with the U.S. U-20 squad. And last year Jesse Gonzalez did the opposite of Jonathan Gonzalez (no relation), the 23-year-old goalkeeper opting to switch his allegiance from the U.S. to Mexico. 

But Efrain Alvarez could be a more difficult player to pull back in — and once again U.S. Soccer could be left looking just as inept as ever.

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