LA Galaxy’s 16-year-old phenom Efrain Juarez completely stole the show at Dignity Health Sports Park. The youngster came on in the 60th minute and instantly made an impact providing the assist to Daniel Steres’ game-tying header.
A few minutes later, Alvarez got the hockey assist as he set up Chris Pontius’ thunderous strike that ricochet off the post for Zlatan Ibrahimovic to head the ball into the net and give the LA Galaxy their first win of the season.
After the match the talk was rightfully about Efrain Juarez and his brilliant MLS debut. Juarez was one of five players under 20 years old to debut in Major League Soccer on opening day.
Don’t want to be a buzzkill here, but the kid is 16 years old. The LA Galaxy should take precaution with the youngster, and bring him along slowly. He’s an amazing talent but should not be leaned on heavily going forward.
Los Angeles may be tempted to utilize him more with Ola Kamara and Giovani dos Santos not on the roster anymore opening up playing time. In addition Romain Alessandrini and Sebastian Lletget could be out some time freeing up more minutes on the pitch.
Fortunately, LA Galaxy head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto is thinking the same way as I am. After the match, he told reporters:
“The plan, at times, is not easy because many times the team has its needs, and the growth of a player has it’s own. But we are going to work throughout the week and every day to give Efrain [Alvarez] the possibility to grow, give the team a possibility to have a player like Efrain [Alvarez] and for the team not to drawback from having to help Efrain [Alvarez] grow because he is 16 years old, but for it to be a situation where the team, just like Efrain [Alvarez], can benefit from each other.”
Alvarez’s teammate Ibrahimovic also echoed the coach’s sentiments:
“Efra, he had a good game. He’s full of confidence. But, he’s only 16-years-old, you forget his age. I said yesterday when I was talking to the media, I think he’s the best talent in MLS by far. The club, the team, the coach have to take care of him in the right way. He needs to work hard. He needs to focus and don’t lose the focus because of the hype, just continue to work. The [club] can help him a lot just like the team because he’s young, he’s talented and it’s easy to lose focus. He’s a good kid. He works hard and he listens.”
With all that being said, I’d be lying that I didn’t want to see Efrain Alvarez play in every game. He possesses game-changing abilities that can influence a game with his ball control, flair and vision.
Those of us that saw him with Los Dos were spoiled when he took the field. Incredible left-footed strikes coupled with some crisp passes, made his USL matches must-see tv.
His performance at the LA Galaxy’s home opener has already sparked a debate on whether Mexico national team heach coach ‘Tata’ Martino should cap-tie him for the upcoming Gold Cup. But that’s for another story.
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