LA Galaxy midfielder Efrain Alvarez has been named to both the U.S. and Mexico preliminary squads ahead of CONCACAF’s Olympic qualifying tournament.
Alvarez is one of 48 players included on the U.S. squad, which Jason Kreis will have to narrow down to 20 ahead of the Olympic qualifiers in March.
Also included on Kreis’ list are some major names including Barcelona’s Konrad de la Fuente, RB Salzburg midfielder Brenden Aaronson and recent Roma signing Bryan Reynolds.
To this point, Alvarez has played for Mexico at the youth level, and, as a result, would require a one-time switch to be eligible to feature for the U.S. going forward.
The LA Galaxy midfielder has joined USMNT camp in recent months as he was a part of Gregg Berhalter’s squad back in December.
However, Alvarez did not feature in the match against El Salvador as he left his international future open heading into 2021.
With the Olympics around the corner, it appears that both the U.S. and Mexico believe they have a chance to bring Alvarez into the program going forward, and whoever does win the race to do so would be bringing in one of the more promising young players in MLS.
The 18-year-old midfielder, who has been hailed by former Galaxy teammate Zlatan Ibrahimovic, has already made 32 MLS appearances, scoring two goals.
The rest of the U.S. squad
Kreis has selected a number of big names for his preliminary list, but actually getting some of those players into his qualifying squad will prove difficult.
Clubs are not required to release players for Under-23 games, meaning that the bulk of the roster is expected to be MLS-based.
Among the European-based stars included are De la Fuente, Aaronson and Reynolds, while Uly Llanez, Sebastian Soto and Johnny Cardoso were also included from foreign clubs.
Players like Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie and Mark McKenzie are technically age-eligible for the squad as well, but have been left off and were never expected to take part in these matches.
Among the MLS standouts included are Sporting KC midfielder Gianluca Busio, New York Red Bulls midfielder Caden Clark, LA Galaxy defender Julian Araujo and Atlanta United star Miles Robinson.
Goalkeepers: Drake Callender (Inter Miami), Matt Freese (Philadelphia Union), Jonathan Klinsmann (LA Galaxy), JT Marcinkowski (San Jose Earthquakes), David Ochoa (Real Salt Lake), Brady Scott (Austin FC).
Defenders: Julian Araujo (LA Galaxy), George Bello (Atlanta United), Kyle Duncan (New York Red Bulls), Marco Farfan (LAFC), Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake), Chris Gloster (PSV), Aaron Herrera (Real Salt Lake), Aboubacar Keita (Columbus Crew), Henry Kessler (New England Revolution), Mauricio Pineda (Chicago Fire), Donovan Pines (D.C. United), Bryan Reynolds (Roma), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United), James Sands (NYCFC), Auston Trusty (Colorado Rapids), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids).
Midfielders: Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg), Efrain Álvarez (LA Galaxy), Frankie Amaya (FC Cincinnati), Cole Bassett (Colorado Rapids), Gianluca Busio (Sporting KC), Caden Clark (New York Red Bulls), Johnny Cardoso (Internacional), Hassani Dotson (Minnesota United), Brooks Lennon (Atlanta United), Djordje Mihailovic (CF Montreal), Keaton Parks (NYCFC), Andrés Perea (Orlando City), Brandon Servania (St. Polten), Tanner Tessmann (FC Dallas), Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes).
Forwards: Cade Cowell (San Jose Earthquakes), Konrad de la Fuente (Barcelona), Jeremy Ebobisse (Portland Timbers), Jesus Ferreira (FC Dallas), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids), Ulysses Llanez (Heerenveen), Benji Michel (Orlando City), Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas), Sebastian Saucedo (Pumas), Sebastian Soto (Norwich City).
When are Olympic qualifiers?
The CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament is set to be held on March 18 in Mexico.
The U.S. will be joined by the hosts in their group alongside Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic, completing a difficult-to-navigate foursome to begin the tournament.
After three group stage games, the top two teams in each group will advance to the semifinal round, with the winner of each semifinal heading to the Olympics.
The U.S. has not qualified for the Olympics since 2008.