GOAL - Ryan Tolmich
U.S. men's national team head coach Gregg Berhalter admitted that he encouraged Efrain Alvarez to join up with Mexico's senior team for upcoming friendlies.
Alvarez, who has represented Mexico at the youth level, was called into the U.S. senior team last fall, but would be unable to play for the USMNT without filing a one-time switch.
He can, however, play for Mexico, who called him in for friendlies against Wales and Costa Rica, with Berhalter advising the 18-year-old to join up with El Tri and form his own opinion of their national team setup.
This month’s #USMNT squad fast facts:— U.S. Soccer MNT (@USMNT) March 17, 2021
▸ Averaging 23 years, 27 days and 11 caps
▸ 16 players age 22 and under
▸ Players from clubs in 10 countries: 🏴, 🇩🇪, 🇺🇸, 🇦🇹, 🇧🇪, 🇫🇷, 🇪🇸, 🇮🇹, 🇵🇹 & 🇳🇱
📝: https://t.co/VrtmTgAWWF pic.twitter.com/XLD4DfIKM0
"I have spoken to him about it and advocated for him to go with the Mexican team," Berhalter told reporters on Wednesday, "and the reason being is that he's been in our environment. I think the only way for him to make an informed decision was to go into their environment.
"We've always said that all we want to do is put the players in a position to make the best possible decision they can make and some players are going to choose for us and some players aren't going to choose us.
"But when you talk about the emotion of the decision, we want to take some of that emotion out of it by letting him have objective data of what the environments are like and get to compare them.
"We wish him all the best in this camp and you know I'm sure I'll follow up with him after the camp and now we're focused on our team for this trip."
The LA Galaxy starlet may be with Mexico currently, but his international future remains up in the air.
Until he plays for Mexico in an official competition, Alvarez will be eligible to file a one-time switch to join up with the USMNT should he so desire.
His decision to join up with El Tri for this set of friendlies keeps that option open while offering him a chance to work with Mexico head coach Gerardo 'Tata' Martino for the first time.
Alvarez was previously named to both the U.S. and Mexico preliminary squads ahead of Olympic qualifying, as the duel to bring Alvarez into the fold has started to heat up.
On the U.S. side, both Berhalter and U-23 head coach Jason Kreis have said that they plan on being patient with Alvarez and will not pressure him into making a hasty decision.
And, while Alvarez's future remains uncertain, the U.S. will be riding high from the commitment of Yunus Musah, who recently turned down overtures from England to pledge his international future to the U.S. program.