LA Galaxy Phenom Efrain Alvarez Leaves Door Open For USMNT Call-Up

The 16-year-old could still play for the U.S. despite his current standing within the Mexico camp.

On June 9, the USMNT drew with France 1-1. On June 13, the United States was awarded the 2026 World Cup. On July 30, LA Galaxy phenom and California native Efrain Alvarez admitted that he’d still be open to representing the U.S. over Mexico. Ladies and gentleman, in the aftermath of missing the world’s greatest event because of a defeat to Trinidad & Tobago, I’m not at all opposed to calling this a new golden era in U.S. soccer. 

In all seriousness, you’d have to have a garbage bin for a heart not to get excited about Alvarez’s latest statements. Yes, the kid is only 16, and yes, he’s only played for the Galaxy’s reserve team in the USL, but only U.S. Soccer could fail to spot his obvious talent — that’s actually why Alvarez now represents Mexico at the youth level.

The Los Angeles native shot to national prominence this year after making grown men look like children in America’s second division. It’s not just that he’s scored six goals in league play, it’s that he’s scored six stunning goals. 

But the hype surrounding Alvarez was quickly met with heartache for USMNT supporters. Back in May, it was revealed that after representing the U.S. at the U-15 level, Alvarez went on to play for Mexico at the U-15 and U-17 levels because of a U.S. snub.

“Efra was dropped from the camp for whatever reason,” said LA Galaxy II coach Mike Munoz. “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.”

That’s just great. Good job.

But Alvarez is now in Atlanta for tomorrow’s 2018 MLS Homegrown Game — a match pitting the brightest young talents of MLS against Tigres’ U-20 side — and the Angeleno says he hasn’t completely made up his mind on his international future. 

“I’m not closing the door on anyone,” Alvarez said. “I could still play for the U.S. or I could keep playing for Mexico. But I’m with Mexico right now and that’s my focus. … I’m happy to be called up [to the 2018 MLS Homegrown Game] and honestly I’m just grateful for everything that MLS does for us. I’m ready to give the best for MLS in the game. I know some of the guys here and I’m excited to play with them.”

You can watch the match tomorrow at 8:30 p.m. ET on UDN and Twitter. 

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