LA Galaxy II made history earlier today when they signed 15-year old LA Galaxy Academy midfielder Efrain Alvarez to his first professional contract.
Alvarez becomes the youngest player to sign in USL history – 15 years, one month, and 14 days old. That bests the previous record of 15 years, three months, and three days set by Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 signing Alphonso Davies back in February of 2016.
For the Galaxy, however, this is much more important than just signing the youngest player in the history of a rather young league. No, for the Galaxy this is about signing their top academy prospect and keeping him firmly planted at the club that spent time and money on his development — even if that means a stint with their second division club.
And this signals a change from previous years where the top Galaxy prospects would escape to Europe or down to Mexico where the pay was better (Paul Arriola, Haji Wright). That would leave the Galaxy, who had spent money developing the young talents, out of any possible training compensation. Unlike leagues around the world, the United States has no training or development compensation and that means that developing youth in the U.S. is always a gamble for professional clubs. Making the significance of this signing even bigger when the big picture is applied.
Because of Alvarez’s dual citizenship (Mexico / United States), his movement in either professional system is fairly straight forward. The Galaxy more than likely had to beat out more than one Mexican club team to keep him within their system. And he’s still being courted by both the U.S. Soccer, and the Mexican Soccer, Youth National teams.
“Efrain is a landmark signing for this club and a sign of the quality coming through the LA Galaxy Academy,” said LA Galaxy General Manager Pete Vagenas in a club press release. “We will continue to position him in the appropriate daily environment as we look to progress his maturation both on and off the field. We look forward to his professional development as a member of LA Galaxy II.”
Alvarez is an experienced player in his own right despite his young age. He most recently helped lead the Galaxy Academy U-17/U-18s to the USSDA Championships at StubHub Center in July, scoring in the team’s quarterfinal, semifinal, and championship matches. He’s also a member of the Mexican National Team’s Youth program and has competed with Mexico at the U-15 level. In addition, he’s been in the U.S. Soccer Youth National team program as well. Competing with the U-14s and U-15s including a trip to the International Festival of Fútbol in Argentina where Alvarez helped to lead the U.S. U-15s to the title in 2016. He scored four goals in three matches during that tournament.
Name: Efrain Alvarez
Born: June 19, 2002
Last Club: LA Galaxy Academy
Birthplace: Los Angeles, Calif.
Citizenship: United States, Mexico
“We are very excited to have Efrain begin his professional soccer career with LA Galaxy II,” said LA Galaxy II Head Coach Mike Muñoz. “He is an extremely talented player who has set himself apart during his time in our Academy and he will continue to improve as a player at the professional level.”
Alvarez is currently training with the Mexican Boys’ Youth National Team while his new team, LA Galaxy II, are preparing for a Wednesday night match that will pit them against rivals Orange County SC (LAFC Affiliate). That game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. and will take place at StubHub Center Track & Field Stadium.
Only two questions remain for the Galaxy organization: How good can Alvarez be? And can they keep him in the Galaxy system long enough to see him make an impact on the senior team? Both questions that should be answered in the coming months and years. Alvarez has a lot of work in front of him, but if his career continues to evolve at the rate he has shown at the age of 15, perhaps the Galaxy have a future MLS star on their hands.