Speaking in Houston on Wednesday to promote the USA-Chile match that is expected to draw a large
crowd at BBVA Compass Stadium on March 26, Berhalter said the national team staff has been monitoring the progress of Alvarez, who helped engineer the LA Galaxy's 2-1 comeback win over the Chicago
Fire on Saturday.
"For us," said Berhalter, "it’s been interesting to watch from the background because he’s a guy that has taken a pathway that, you’d call it a somewhat normal pathway although it’s been accelerated. He started out in the academy of LA Galaxy, he played there, he went to the second team of LA Galaxy, he did really well with the second team and now he’s making an impact with the first team. That’s exactly what we want to see continuing. It would be great that he continues to chip away and get playing time and now can be a consistent performer for one of the top clubs in MLS."
Alvarez was 12 when he entered the U.S. youth national team program in 2014. He soon joined the Galaxy academy program after Chivas USA folded. But he left the U.S. youth national team program in 2016 and plays for Mexico's U-17 national team that is preparing for Concacaf qualifying in May.
Alvarez signed with the Galaxy II in 2017 and an MLS Homegrown Player contract in 2018. He tore up the USL in 2018, scoring 12 goals for the Galaxy II, but he never played a game for the Galaxy. He needed only eight minutes on Saturday to earn his first assist and then was involved in the second goal as the Galaxy rallied for a comeback win over Chicago.
That performance prompted speculation that Mexico might make a preemptive strike at trying to tie Alvarez to El Tri by calling him up and playing him at the 2019 Gold Cup, the first chance it would have to play him in an official competition.
"We’ll be there watching the whole thing," said Berhalter, "and when he’s doing what we expect him to do, there will be an opportunity for him with the U.S. national team. Regarding a potential choice for him, we want to create an environment that players want to be in. We want to create a playing style, a team spirit that players want to be a part of. If we do, we’re confident we can get players like that and keep players like that in our program."
Alvarez started out at the age of 7 with the short-lived New York Cosmos West youth club and has been part of an exceptional group put together by Brian Kleiban, now a Galaxy academy coach, that includes U.S. U-20s Alex Mendez and Uly Llanez. While Berhalter termed Alvarez's path to the pros as "normal" -- from academy to second team to first team at the Galaxy, his former club -- he reiterated that there is not one preferred path.
"I’ve said all along that every player has their own pathway," said Berhalter. "What I want for my players -- each and every one of them -- is that they can maximize their own potential, so then they have different ways to do that. For some of them, it’s going to be going to an MLS academy, playing for an MLS second team and signing with an MLS first team really developing that way. For other guys, it’s going to be different pathways and it is going to be going to Europe or it is going to be playing at a mid-level team in Europe and then making a jump from there. Every player has a different pathway."