Alvarez, living the dream with Chivas USA
CARSON, Calif. -- While many in Los Angeles were pulled into Galaxy fandom by the arrival of David Beckham in 2007, Chivas USA rookie Carlos Alvarez instead dreamed of wearing the red and white jersey.
The 22-year-old midfielder idolized Claudio Suárez. He modeled his game after Francisco “Panchito” Mendoza and admired the tenacity of Francisco Palencia. Chivas USA was his team, no question.
“When (Chivas USA) came up to the league, I looked at them,” Alvarez told MLSsoccer.com this week. “I followed them, but then I went to college.”
Alvarez left the area to spend four years at UConn, but his dream of joining the Goats never dissipated. It was finally fulfilled when Chivas USA selected him No. 2 overall in this year’s MLS SuperDraft.
At the midway point of preseason training camp, though, Alvarez has been rudely awakened by a much more physical brand of soccer.
“What’s happening to Alvarez is normal; he’s learning very fast but the pace in college is a lot slower than it is in the pros,” new head coach José Luis Sánchez Solá told MLSsoccer.com. “He needs to adapt to the faster pace. He recovers the ball quickly but then, based on pace he’s used to, loses the ball quickly. Or he doesn’t analyze the situation as much as he should. Defenders arrive very quickly, so his time to think and react here is shorter.”
Sánchez Solá isn’t alone in his assessment; Alvarez too acknowledges his struggle to grasp the quicker style of MLS. Yet with every session, the Mexican-American says he gains a greater understanding of what "El Chelís" expects of him.
Alvarez has expectations for himself, as well.
“Individually, I want to step on the field,” Alvarez said. “But collectively, I want us to win something. Right here it’s all about the team, so whatever the team needs that’s what I’ll do.”
Sánchez Solá is open to the idea of early playing time for Alvarez while knowing he'll have to be patient as the former Big East midfielder of the year develops.
“I need to learn that he’s young,” Sánchez Solá said. “Like all young players, he’s got to learn from mistakes. All I can do is have confidence in him. I hope the more confidence I have in him the better. But at the same time I can’t always say, ‘C’mon, c’mon, nice, nice!’ No, I’ve got to give him time and give him minutes.”
Alvarez, who starred at Bishop Mora Salesian in East Los Angeles, is by no means a finished product, but he’s ready to accomplish his childhood fantasy of donning the red and white stripes.
“Coming back home was good for me because my family is here,” Alvarez said. “I like being next to my family. These are the colors I wanted to use ever since I was a kid. Now, being here, I need to perform for the colors.”