Mexico raids Galaxy academy for 14-year-old star

Efrain Alvarez, who turned 14 in June, is considered one of the top prospects in the U.S. youth ranks, having scored four goals for the U.S. U-15 national team on its trip to Argentina in April, but the LA Galaxy academy midfielder is in Mexico City, where he is participating in a Mexican U-15 national team training camp at the Mexican federation's Centro de Alto Rendimiento in Mexico City.

Alvarez played for the Galaxy's U-16 team in the 2016 Development Academy playoffs, where it lost to FC Dallas in the final. Mexican scouts reportedly spotted him playing for the Galaxy in the Fuerzas Basicas tournament organized by the Mexican federation for Liga MX and MLS teams in August.

Mexican and U.S. youth national team have engaged in a tug of war for top Mexican-American players in recent years.  Edwin Lara and Abraham Romero, left U.S. U-17 Residency and represented Mexico in the 2015 Under-17 World Cup. They are both at Pachuca in Mexico. Brandon Vazquez, who plays for Tijuana, took the reverse route and played for the USA in the 2015 Under-17 World Cup.

Sebastian Saucedo, who plays for Veracruz in Liga MX on loan from Real Salt Lake, has gone back and forth and could join the U.S. U-20s for qualifying next year.

A player isn't tied to a youth national team until he plays in an official match (qualifying or world championship). A player can switch from the youth to the senior levels with FIFA's approval.
25 comments about "Mexico raids Galaxy academy for 14-year-old star".
  1. Fire Paul Gardner Now, September 20, 2016 at 10:02 a.m.

    How can this be? According to "All American" Mexico's youth development system is incredible and at least one million times better than ours so why would they need to steal US players? There must be a mistake here.

  2. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, September 20, 2016 at 1:04 p.m.

    So what you're saying is Mexico actually needs to poach American kids because their youth development system isn't any better than ours - as shown by the fact that their national team has had similar results to ours this century.

  3. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, September 21, 2016 at 9:47 a.m.

    When Mexico's senior team is actually consistently better than the US, maybe you'll have a point. Rossi was an isolated incident but Mexico has made a habit of poaching US players, as the article above mentions. Why would they need to do that when according to you they have an incredible youth development system that we should rush to copy?

    Also where is the evidence that this kid wasn't treated correctly by the US system? He's at an MLS academy (which is free) and has been called into the youth national team. What more should they be doing?

  4. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, September 21, 2016 at 4:12 p.m.

    Why does Mexico U17 provide a better platform than US U17?

  5. Bill Wilson, September 20, 2016 at 10:10 a.m.

    What a surprise. Basically, if a kid has the choice he will play for Mexico. In most cases the only ones we will get are those that have been rejected by Mexico. Not hard to understand...their parents probably brought them up as El Tri fans and they will choose to play for a country where people care about the sport they play. That aside, I personally believe that we should tell dual national kids, who were born and live in the US, that once they make the choice to play for a foreign youth national side, they can never come back to the US program. Freedom of choice brings with it consequences. I would rather lose with kids that want to play for our country from the start than rejected mercenaries. In the long run it won't matter as much anyway because the next generation of kids from immigrant families will all dream to play in the NFL.

  6. R2 Dad replied, September 20, 2016 at 10:46 a.m.

    Hilarious. Here is the very short list of players of hispanic origin who played in the NFL. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Hispanic_professional_American_football_players
    I don't think I've even seen an Hispanic wearing an NFL jersey--but I've seen thousands wearing El Tri's, Argentina's, Chivas, America's. Fewer kids are playing American football, NFL attendance is static: https://www.statista.com/statistics/193420/regular-season-attendance-in-the-nfl-since-2006/ while MLS attendance has grown: http://www.businessinsider.com/major-league-soccer-attendance-2014-10. I think this is mostly wishful thinking on your part, based on historic trends vs what is actually happening on the ground.

  7. Al Gebra replied, September 20, 2016 at 11:07 a.m.

    Not unless the immigrant is from Africa and weighs over 300 pounds

  8. Bill Wilson replied, September 20, 2016 at 2:52 p.m.

    I thought a lot about the German, Icelandic, Norwegian, etc. kids that became part of our player pool before writing this post. If you notice, I stated that my reasoning applies only to kids who are born and raised in this country and feel free to treat this decision as a smorgasbord for whatever selfish personal reasons they choose. I certainly understand that somebody who was born and spent most of his life in another country would want to pursue that path first. I believe this situation applies to all of the US military kids who are in our player pool, and am glad that they were not deemed good enough for the Germany pool and happy to have them with us. With Alvarez, I see a clear difference. Here is a kid who was selected for one of our youth teams, one whom I suspect is greatly appreciated and loved by our coaches and his teammates based on his performance, one who plays for an MLS Academy team and goes about his business in our country as an American citizen every day. I consider it to be an insult that he wants to play for Mexico, regardless of whatever BS reason he gives us for this decision. I respect that he, and his parents who are likely influencing him, have the freedom to do whatever they want. I also have the freedom to despise this decision and believe it should have consequences for this young gentleman and anybody else who feels free to follow this path. If and (likely) when Mexico throws him on the scrap heap, I personally do not want to see Efrain Alvarez in a US shirt, representing this country again if he thumbs his nose at the opportunity he has already been presented with and joins a foreign youth national team.

  9. Bill Wilson replied, September 20, 2016 at 3:10 p.m.

    R2 Dad. My somewhat tongue-in-cheek reference about later generations of immigrants becoming NFL fans is grounded in some reality. I got into a back and forth a few years ago with a local newspaper columnist (who covered the NASL back in the day BTW) who told me that he had done a significant amount of research on this subject. What he told me is that the initial Mexican and Central American immigrants retain a strong loyalty to their home club soccer team. Later generations generally lose this loyalty and end up caring about and supporting their local NFL team and star NFL players more than anything else...primarily because this is who their peers are following and talking about. This was kind of depressing to me because it contradicted my desire to see these early next generation immigrant Americans retain the strong connection to soccer of their parents but switch their allegiance to the local MLS team. The journalist told me that this is definitely not happening. As for the wishful thinking, the NFL is not going anywhere (except upward) anytime soon regardless of what micro trends you see.

  10. R2 Dad replied, September 20, 2016 at 9:14 p.m.

    Bill, until a couple years ago no one worried about concussions. Now it's a huge problem that will not go away: http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2013/08/americas-most-dangerous-football-is-in-the-pee-wee-leagues-not-the-nfl/279229/ When America stops playing football, America stops watching football. It's the exact opposite from soccer. But lets see in 20 years time. I'm betting NFL attendance drops, TV blackouts get dropped, and football becomes what soccer used to be.

  11. Bill Wilson replied, September 20, 2016 at 10:55 p.m.

    I don't think I said any such thing. I actually spent 3 years in Germany with the US Army during the 1970's and might have served with some of these kid's fathers. I do have a pretty clear idea of how American these kids are. Yeah but thanks for your brilliant insights haha.

  12. Bill Wilson replied, September 21, 2016 at 9:12 a.m.

    I will make one more attempt to explain my position. I had soldiers with the unit I served in Germany who fathered kids with German mothers out-of-wedlock. I also met struggling Mothers who were raising kids whose Fathers were soldiers who did not marry them and returned to the US after their tour was completed. This is and was not a pretty picture but it is reality and we can't hide from it. From what I have been able to glean from stories that have come out about the USMNT German Nationals, their relationships with their Fathers run the complicated gamut from very close to very distant. So on one hand you have a German/US National team player who was born overseas, raised outside of the US by a non-citizen mother, played his entire youth career outside of the country, traveled to the US sporadically (if at all), may have no or limited English language fluency and possibly not have even participated in one of the German youth national team programs. On the other hand you have a Mexican-American kid who I believe was born in this country, has likely lived here all his life, played his youth soccer here, has been developed partly by an Academy system from our domestic league, was invited to and participated in one or more of our Youth National teams, is highly regarded and wanted by our National team staff and goes to school and benefits from the fortune he has of living in this country every day. So I do see a difference between these two situations. Yes. Do I consider the German-American kid or Efrain Alvarez to be less of a citizen than the other? No. Do I understand and accept that the German kid described here would want to pursue a career with Germany first. Yes. Do I understand why Efrain Alvarez wants to pursue a possible career with the Mexican National youth program? Not really, but it is his right to do this. If he chooses to thumb his nose at all of the benefits that he has accrued from being born and living in the US, combined with the experience he has gained from our Youth national teams that made him attractive to Mexico however, there should be consequences. I personally don't want to see him, or any like him who make the same choice, play for a US side at any level again. He has been invited to be part of the US Soccer National team program, something many kids dream of every day. If he chooses, for whatever reasons-selfish or not-to take this step, I would prefer be see his place taken by kids who want to play for our country. You obviously don't see a difference in these situations and I respect that. US Soccer doesn't care what either of us think so it is irrelevant anyway. BTW, this is the last time I will ever respond to one of your posts so take your hahaha's, telling others that they don't make any sense, calling people who don't agree with you ignorant and other "cute" trolling and put it wherever you like. And "bro" invest in spell check.

  13. :: SilverRey :: replied, September 21, 2016 at 6:42 p.m.

    Btw, NFL is playing at Azteca in a month. I think there is a decent amount of NFL interest from Latinos.

  14. R2 Dad, September 20, 2016 at 10:49 a.m.

    Very curious if this will continue, given FIFA's crackdown on club's poaching underage players across boarders as it relates to Barca & Real. Will this apply to Mexico & the US as well?

  15. Ric Fonseca replied, September 20, 2016 at 11:41 a.m.

    Al Gebra, your comment is obnoxious and rings of xenophobic racism. R2D2: Yes there have been Hispanics/Latinos playing in the NFL, just look closely at their rosters. As for the Mexican american kid being lured away from the CARSON GALAXY, after having read Garbo Garber's comments about owners bitching they're not getting their money's worth, this is a perfect example as to what needs to get done to keep them at home. Heck, my son is Mexican and Puerto Rican, and is eligible to play for either country and if offered a chance, I'd tell him to grab the ring, if he was (has been) looked and passed over by a so called"pro team." So let's see what MLS, USS, and FIFA do with this kind of "poaching."

  16. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, September 20, 2016 at 1:02 p.m.

    Why will it be 16 instead of 18? A Polish kid can sign in Germany because they are both part of the EU. There is no similar freedom of movement between Mexico and the US.

    Try to respond without name calling. I bet you can't do it.

  17. R2 Dad replied, September 20, 2016 at 1:57 p.m.

    Mexico's situation is different from most other countries since it's the club owners who decide who plays for El Tri. Therefore, they have a vested interest and the clubs become defacto gate keepers for which US kids get to play for Mexico. I've heard there is a quid pro quo--you can't play for El Tri if you don't sign for Mexican clubs. And Mexican clubs don't have a players union, there is no real player representation. It's partly why some Mexicans have not always embraced playing for El Tri--it's very political.

  18. Carlos Ramirez, September 20, 2016 at 12:05 p.m.

    This is what happens when the US Men's National team ignores the talents of Hispanics. American players of Hispanic decent don't see future opportunities with the national team, mostly because they don't fit the profile of what the current coach sees as "American". If you're big and strong (American football profile), you'll get your opportunity. That's why the US will never win a World Cup.

  19. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, September 21, 2016 at 9:51 a.m.

    How are they ignoring his talents? That's a nice narrative but it makes no sense when you are talking about a kid that is in an MLS academy and has been called up to the national team for his age group.

  20. Will G, September 20, 2016 at 12:42 p.m.

    Add another topic to the list in which AA calls other posters stupid. But, to be fair to him, he is actually correct on this one. Until MLS and USSF can come up with a way to stop wasting millions on overage, has been European and S American players and give some of that money to up and coming US Youth players, this trend will continue. The players are simply making a decision as to where they have the best chance to succeed, both on the pitch and financially. These youth players are investments but the problem is MLS clubs can't make a return unless they make it into the first team or are sold outside the US. It is a mess all around.

  21. Will G, September 20, 2016 at 5:56 p.m.

    Can you really ask players to commit to a league with the mindset of "being together as a country?" I don't want to start another debate, but these are athletes. Athletes whose careers can be over with one injury. Athletes whose shelf life is not very long. I have no issue with professionals getting everything they can financially, no matter where it is. The very same thing is done in the business world. It is not incumbent on the athletes to make MLS and US Soccer better, it is incumbent on the league and Federation to attract these players in a manner that not only builds a league, but builds a stronger National Team.

  22. Bill Wilson replied, September 20, 2016 at 11:07 p.m.

    They can all go play in Mars and make as much money as they want for all I care. I only believe that when kids who are born and grow up in this country decide to pursue their International careers elsewhere that they should be done wearing a US shirt. I would rather have kids who want to be here on our team. IMHO. Out.

  23. Mark Landefeld, September 21, 2016 at 2:43 a.m.

    This signing demonstrates why some MLS teams are reluctant to release their academy players to US YNT training (unless compelled for a Youth WC qualifier). They can't protect their investment from the clubs and agents scouring our pool.

  24. Ginger Peeler, September 21, 2016 at 10:31 p.m.

    Whoa, guys, slow down! This kid was not "signed" to anything. He"s only 14!!! Did you all ignore the last couple paragraphs in the article?

    "A player isn't tied to a youth national team until he plays in an official match (qualifying or world championship). A player can switch from the youth to the senior levels with FIFA's approval."

    And: "Sebastian Saucedo, who plays for Veracruz in Liga MX on loan from Real Salt Lake, has gone back and forth and could join the U.S. U-20s for qualifying next year."

    If this kid is that good, then isn't it in his best interest to be the best player he can be? If given the opportunity to participate in a training camp in Mexico City, shouldn't he jump at the chance to get as much experience playing with different people, perhaps playing different styles from what he does as a midfielder for his LA Academy? It can only make him a more experienced player! Hopefully, if he is good enough and eventually given the choice to play for the USA senior team or Mexico's, he'll go with us. I think a lot of that may depend on the coaches he trains with and his self confidence in his abilities as he ages in the system. Right now, he is a child. We don't own him.

  25. Fire Paul Gardner Now, September 22, 2016 at 9:59 a.m.

    Interesting article: http://www.espnfc.us/major-league-soccer/19/blog/post/2955623/major-league-soccer-hard-for-young-talent-but-opportunities-are-there

    According to this article, MLS players under the age of 24 have garnered 18.57 percent of the total available minutes so far this season. In the Liga MX 2016 Clausura, the percentage during was 15.65.

    Looking at U-22 players, the numbers are 5.9% for MLS and 6.78% for LigaMX.

    So looks like All American's description of LigaMX as a league chock full of great young Mexican players isn't accurate.

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