Newly appointed Mexico manager ‘Tata’ Martino will have a long list of players to look at over these next few months. There is one, however, who should be given an opportunity at just 16 years old.
Efrain Alvarez took the USL by storm last season with LA Galaxy II. His performance with the USL side gained a lot of attention and that is why he is now an option in the LA Galaxy midfield.
The fact he was playing with grown men is impressive, but to do so as a major contributor is nothing to ignore. As of now, Efrain has represented both the U.S. and Mexico at the youth level, although he has featured with Mexico in the past year. That is one reason why ‘Tata’ should really consider getting him an opportunity with the Mexico senior side.
The young midfielder is not shy on the field and has a plethora of potential. It wouldn’t be the first time a player under the age of 18 has been called, so it would not be a ridiculous move. It is no guarantee that Efrain will stick with being a Mexico player. He has stated that he isn’t 100% closed to switching to the USMNT, despite being a Mexico youth player.
There is no major downside to calling Efrain to the senior side, in all honesty. ‘Tata’ Martino and co. would solidify him as a Mexican player which looks to be an intelligent idea right now. In addition, Mexico’s rival in the U.S. is not shy to call up players who have the ability to play for more than one nation.
The longer Efrain is not a solidified player with Mexico, the better opportunity the U.S. has to make a swoop for his switch back over. Moreover, with his growth over the past year, it is not a bad idea for either nation to make a move for the services of the 16-year-old. He plays with a lot of skill and confidence, and to add an assist in his MLS debut, his hype looks more legitimate than ever.
His LA Galaxy teammate, prolific striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, had praised Efrain Alvarez before he made his MLS debut. At Thursday’s (February 26, 2019) practice via LA Soccer Nation’s Gabe Montoya, Ibrahimovic told reporters:
“Efra is only 16. I saw him last season. He’s doing amazing things and I think that in MLS he’s the best 16-year-old that exists today, so I think everyone is excited, everyone is waiting for him to show himself, to demonstrate who he is.”
Mexico has a lot of young players who will be at the core of the 2022 to 2026 World Cup teams. Efrain Alvarez should be one of those to help Mexico bolster their upcoming World Cup hopes. Yet, right now, he will have his choice of who he wants to play for as a senior player, and the past ambition of the USMNT with dual nationalities should worry Mexico.