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.