Efrain Alvarez

Getty Images

Watch Live: Brazil v. Mexico in U-17 World Cup final

1 Comment

The 2019 U-17 World Cup final takes place in Bezerrão Stadium on Saturday as favorites Brazil host an inspired Mexico.


With four goals and one assist, Kaio Jorge has been Brazil’s most productive attacking player this tournament, while Mexico’s and Los Angeles Galaxy’s Efrain Alvarez is hoping to end an incredible tournament in triumphant fashion.

History between both national teams in a U-17 World Cup final dates back to 2005, when LAFC’s Carlos Vela and Mexico routed Marcelo and Brazil 3-0 in Lima, Peru.

Click on the link above to watch the game live.

U-17 World Cup final
Brazil v. Mexico – 5 p.m. ET

Preview: Brazil v. Mexico in U-17 World Cup final

Getty Images
Leave a comment

There will be plenty of 2005 U-17 World Cup final shades at Estadio Bezerrão on Sunday.


On that clear night in Lima, Peru, the likes of Carlos Vela and Giovani dos Santos wrote history for Mexico, as they powered El Tri to its first-ever World Cup title over a favorite Brazilian side, who was composed of Marcelo, Renato Augusto, and Anderson, in a 3-0 win.

14 years and some change later, both youth powerhouses meet again in the same tournament, for the same silverware, and with the same pressure looming over them from entire nations who expect nothing but excellence from their respective teams.

But of course, to the Brazilians, there is a sense of added pressure given the fact that they’re on home soil.

“We’re familiar with Mexico’s quality,” Brazilian forward, Veron, said ahead of the final. We know they are a great team. But we’re Brazil, and we have five stars on our chest. We intend to play our best match and get the result that makes history.”

As it stands, Mexico is the clear-cut underdog, having barely crept into the knockout stages and being composed of players with far less notoriety to its Brazilian counterpart, who boast three players with three goals or more in the tournament.

That said, Mexico pose as a balanced, reliable, and pragmatic team under coach Marco “Chima” Ruiz. Throughout the six games this tournament, El Tri have found the back of the net 14 times and have conceded a mere three goals (two of which came against Italy). With four goals and two assists in only 344 minutes, Los Angeles Galaxy’s Efrain Alvarez has proven to be the team’s most productive player going forward.

Asked who he would rather take between France or Brazil in the final, the Mexican American answered with the same confidence that has made him one of the most exciting players in the tournament.

“It doesn’t matter which of the two it is, we’ll beat them,” he said.

It’s 90 minutes for either team to make history, again. A win for Brazil will raise the number of U-17 stars to four, while Mexico can claim its third with another historic performance. Will Brazil’s high-flying attack crack Mexico’s solid defense? If Alvarez starts, will he rise to the occasion and guide Mexico to another U-17 title?

That has yet to be seen; the second final between two, routine winners awaits the first whistle.

Must-See Goal: Mexico U-17’s Efrain Alvarez

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Efrain Alvarez wasn’t ready for Mexico to exit the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in the semifinals with a defeat to the Netherlands.

Down a goal in the 79th minute, the LA Galaxy attacker curled in a beautiful free kick over the wall and in for a goal to tie the score at 1-1. It was Alvarez’s third goal of the U-17 World Cup as Mexico has progressed to the semifinals for the second time in the last three tournaments. Though Alvarez had his shot saved in the penalty kick shootout later in the game, Mexico progressed, 4-3 past the Netherlands to make it to the U-17 World Cup final.

Alvarez, who was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, has played for both U.S. Soccer and Mexico youth teams in the past, and has left the door open to play for either country in the future. Playing in a World Cup for Mexico though puts U.S. Soccer behind the eight ball when it comes to his recruitment, however.

Watch Alvarez’s sweet free kick below.

Watch: Galaxy’s Alvarez scores twice as Mexico move on in U-17 World Cup

Getty Images
Leave a comment

He’s been called the “best talent in MLS by far” by Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Efrain Alvarez scored two goals and added as many assists, as Mexico rolled past Solomon Islands 8-0 on Sunday, clinching the final spot in the 2019 U-17 World Cup’s Round of 16. It was the first win for El Tri, who drew against Paraguay and lost against Italy in stoppage time to start the tournament.

The Los Angeles Galaxy winger, who reappeared on Mario Arteaga’s XI after starting on the bench against Italy, has scored three goals in three games, and stands only a goal behind the tournament’s current leading goalscorer, Australia’s Noah Botic.

Born in Los Angeles, California to Mexican parents, Alvarez originally began his youth international career representing the U.S. U-15s in 2016, only to make a switch to the team south of the border months later. The fallout between the player and the U.S. happened after they decided to omit him from a camp for “whatever reason,” Alvarez’s former coach, Mike Munoz, said.

In 2019, the 17-year-old assumed a first-team role in Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s Galaxy, appearing in 14 regular season games and assisting on three occasions. Speaking to ESPN’s Tom Marshall in September, Alavarez stated that “the focus right now is Mexico,” amid interest from the U.S. men’s national team, specifically from coach Gregg Berhalter.

The focus will have to remain Mexico, who travel to Brasilia to take on Group D winners Japan on Wednesday.

Watch the full highlights below:

Zlatan takes LA Galaxy teen Efrain Alvarez under his wing

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The self-proclaimed “Lion” has taken a cub.

17-year-old forward Efrain Alvarez has just broken into the LA Galaxy squad, making 10 appearances and five starts this season, but he already has the best teacher any MLS teen can ask for.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has taken Alvarez under his wing, according to Alvarez’s father Cresencio. Zlatan treats Alvarez “as if he was his cub,” Cresencio – or “Chencho” – told ESPN’s Tom Marshall in his recent profile of the budding Galaxy youth product.

Alvarez, who grew up in Los Angeles just minutes away from the LA Galaxy facilities and Dignity Health Sports Park and signed a professional contract with the Galaxy at 15 years old, knows how lucky he is to have such an experienced an prolific striker be his mentor and guide.

“[Zlatan] is such a cool guy,” Alvarez told ESPN. “Since I met him the first day, he always wanted to help me. I met him and he started giving me advice, and once you hear advice from him, you want to learn. He knows what it takes. He even said, ‘If you need help, I’ll help you; I just want the best for you. I know the potential you have, so I’m coming to help you; I’m not coming to hurt you or damage you. Other players, I kill them, but with you I see potential, so I’m trying to help you.'”

Alvarez now faces a very real decision in the coming years. As the son of Mexican immigrants born in Los Angeles, he played for the U.S. youth national team starting at the age of 12, but switched to Mexico at 15 years old at the behest of a home visit from then-youth director Juan Carlos Ortega. He tells ESPN of his disdain for his time with the U.S. setup and “how they treated me,” although he did not go into more detail.

Still, it’s possible for him to switch back to the United States, something his father said is clearly on the cards, even meeting with Gregg Berhalter sometime in 2019 to discuss the U.S. vision. At this point though, “the focus right now is Mexico,” Alvarez tells ESPN.

With Zlatan at his back, it’s a good bet the kid will be ready to take on whatever challenges come his way.