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USMNT Weekly Youth Update: Efrain Alvarez’s hype train has left the station

The 16-year-old debuted in style for the Galaxy

Chicago Fire v Los Angeles Galaxy Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

Major League Soccer has returned and with it, some young Americans had some notable performances. Across the pond, European leagues are in full swing as we brace for the big push for spots in European competitions and safety from relegation. I will continue with the rating system of whether I think the player should be called up for the friendlies later this month (1-nowhere near ready; 5-absolutely call them up). Here’s what happened this week:

United States

Efrain Alvarez - Attacking Midfielder, Los Angeles Galaxy

Mexican-American Alvarez began the season opener against the Chicago Fire on the bench. In the 60th minute, the 16-year-old become the youngest Galaxy player in club history when he came off the bench with LA searching for a tying goal. Alvarez delivered just eight minutes later. He took an excellent touch to fool the defender and delivered a gorgeous chip to the center of the box where it was headed home to level the score at a goal apiece.

He wasn’t done either. Later, Alvarez was involved again as a clean one-touch pass off a throw-in set up a shot that came off the crossbar. The ensuing rebound fell to Zlatan Ibrahimovic to head into the back of the net for the game-winner. Much has been said about this player’s potential and his decision between Mexico and the United States (he has previously represented the US but is currently playing for Mexico at the youth levels). I was excited to see him get this opportunity and he took it very well. I imagine we will see a lot more this season. 3

Jonathan Lewis - Winger, New York City FC

Lewis earned the start in NYCFC’s season opener. The 21-year-old started on the right wing and got on the scoresheet in their 2-2 draw with Orlando City. In the 13th minute, Lewis cut inside from the right and played a nice square ball to Ebenezer Ofori who scored a fantastic goal to put NYCFC up 1-0.

Lewis was subbed off in the 72nd minute, but it was a good sign to see him in the starting lineup and contributing early in the season. Hopefully he can keep it up. 3


Cameron Carter-Vickers - Centerback, Tottenham (On Loan at Swansea City)

Carter-Vickers has been in excellent form in recent weeks. The 21-year-old was given an opportunity due to injury, and he is taking advantage. On Saturday, he delievered his best performance of the season in Swansea’s 2-0 victory against Bolton Wanderers. CCV showed off his massive improvement with his passing, delivering an impressive eight long balls with 100% accuracy (he completed nearly 95% of his 92 passes overall in this match). He has been criticized for his lack of ability to play out of the back in the past, but he has obviously improved in this regard. As well, he was all over the place defensively, winning the ball back repeatedly. With the March friendlies right around the corner, Carter-Vickers has made a very nice push to keep his name in the conversation among the crowded group of centerbacks. We’ll see if Berhalter rewards his form when the USMNT roster is announced on March 12th. 4

Antonee Robinson - Left Back, Everton (On Loan at Wigan Athletic)

Robinson is back to full health from ankle surgery. The 21-year-old has resumed full training and is available for selection. That’s the good news. The bad news is he isn’t getting selected. Wigan has been playing a bit better lately, having not tasted defeat since the end of January with Kal Naismith playing relatively well in the LB/LWB role. Robinson needs to push and earn his spot back. 3


Tyler Adams - Central Midfielder, RB Leipzig

Adams had another good week, which has been the norm for him since his move to the Bundesliga. On Monday, Adams came off the bench at halftime with Leipzig trailing 1-0. Adams helped change the game in Leipzig’s favor and was involved in the build-up to the game-tying goal by exploiting space and making a simple pass to open up the defense. On Saturday, Adams was rewarded with the start against FC Nürnberg. Adams had a somewhat quiet first half while Leipzig overall were in command, but he had a strong second half with several excellent passes that split lines in the Nürnberg defense. Leipzig held onto their 1-0 lead on the road despite being under pressure late. The win combined with Borussia Mönchengladbach’s loss to Bayern Munich has Leipzig in third place in the Bundesliga. Adams continues to play a big role. This move has been a resounding success so far. 5

Chris Gloster - Left Back, Hannover

Gloster had an exciting week. He was called up to train with the Hannover first team with them dealing with injuries. The 18-year-old has been a regular with Hannover’s B team since the winter break and has impressed them enough to get a look. Hannover’s first team is in a dire situation as they face near-certain relegation, so it may still be a while before Gloster (or Sebastian Soto for that matter) make their Bundesliga debuts. Still, it’s awesome to see him getting a chance. Look for Gloster to play a major role in the upcoming U-20 World Cup this summer assuming Hannover releases him. 2


Andrija Novakovich - Striker, Reading FC (On Loan at Fortuna Sittard)

Novakovich started against AZ Alkmaar as usual on Sunday. The 22-year-old made an impact as well. Just before halftime, he picked up the ball following a foul and struck a well-placed shot from just outside the box through a defender’s legs and past the outstretched reach of AZ goalkeeper Marco Bizot.

The goal put them up 2-1 heading into the break. However in the second half, AZ took command of the match. They would go on to score three unanswered goals and win in dominant fashion. For Novakovich, it’s good to see him continuing to get on the scoresheet despite his club’s struggles. This was his seventh goal in 1,801 minutes in all competitions this season. 4

Richard Ledezma - Central Midfielder, PSV Eindhoven

Ledezma is finally back training again as well.

The 18-year-old has been unavailable through injury for a long while (recall he was unable to participate in the U-20 Concacaf Championship in the fall), but is back to full training and hopefully will make his debut for PSV’s U-19’s soon. 1

As always, hit the comment section to let me know if there’s anything major I overlooked or if there’s anyone you’d like to hear about. Thank you for reading.