June 9, 2014
By Steve Lewis - UConn Athletic Communications
STORRS, Conn. – As the No. 2 overall pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, former UConn midfielder Carlos Alvarez was expected to perform at a high level upon arrival with Chivas USA in Los Angeles.
The former Big East Midfielder of the Year (2012) has been able to ward off the pressure associated with making an MLS impact by playing hard, being grateful for his opportunities, and taking things one day at a time.
“I never expected going second,” said the second-year MLS player. “I worked hard, hoping something good would come out of it and it obviously did. It was the biggest blessing I ever got.”
Alvarez made a difference almost instantly for Chivas, appearing in his first MLS game against the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2013 as a second-half substitute. The former Husky scored his first professional goal late in the game, earning his club a draw and proving his ability to teammates.
Alvarez, a Los Angeles native, has the opportunity of playing in his hometown after four successful seasons in Storrs. Entering his second season with Chivas USA, the midfielder is a little wiser to the professional game, but not satisfied with his knowledge and preparation in MLS competition.
“I just tried to learn from my teammates,” Alvarez said. “I just wanted to learn and do as much as possible trying to contribute to this club. Even this year, I’m still learning things, but I’m always trying to do what’s best for the team.
The 2012 All-Big East First Team member played in 29 games for Chivas in 2013, starting 26 of them. The rookie midfielder racked up 2,182 total minutes played while scoring two goals and assisting three more.
Thus far in 2014, Alvarez is yet to score in 10 appearances, but has been firing away with 13 shots tallied in 685 minutes played.
With so few rookies seeing as much time as Alvarez did in his first season, it seems Chivas USA is getting a high-return on their investment, with only more to be gained. Though he has many experiences to speak of in his first year-and-a-half of MLS soccer, Alvarez does not pick any one moment as being more influential than another.
“Every day I think I come with the right mentality, a hard-working mentality,” Alvarez said. “Knowing that it could be the last day I ever play, I try to come prepared at all times. I don’t have a best moment this season because any day could be my last, so I don’t take anything for granted.”
From being named Big East Rookie of the Year in 2009 to being a M.A.C. Hermann Trophy semifinalist in 2012, Alvarez had a storied career at UConn under head coach Ray Reid. He was tabbed as an National Soccer Coaches Association of American (NSCAA) Second Team All-American as a junior and senior, and he was named to the NSCAA All-Northeast First Team in his sophomore season.
“Carlos epitomizes what a UConn player should be,” UConn men’s soccer coach Ray Reid said. “He’s technical, tactically aware and has a passion for the game. He is also unbelievably loyal to UConn.”
The former Husky is 14th on UConn’s all-time scoring list, recording 82 total points over his four years. Of those 82, Alvarez assisted goals on 42 occasions, which is good for third in the history of UConn’s soccer program. He led the Huskies in assists for every one of his four years.
Alvarez is also a two-time All-Big East First Team selection (2010 and 2012) and a one-time selection for All-Big East Second Team (2011). He helped UConn reach the NCAA Tournament three times, including two trips to the Quarterfinals (2011 and 2012)
When recalling what it was like to play for Reid at UConn, Alvarez credits the Husky coach for helping him to keep his focus and play his hardest at all times.
“He always pushed me to my limits, he never let me settle for anything so I’m grateful for that,” said the midfielder. “He always wanted the best for me and his program. He pushed me every single day and never let me relax.”
Alvarez still follows the UConn program closely, and this past December he took to the road to see the Huskies play against Virginia in this past season’s NCAA Quarterfinals (UVA 2-1). “I guess you could say I’m still a Husky,” joked Alvarez.
As Alvarez continues to embark on his journey in the MLS, he does so while remembering valuable lessons learned at UConn and being appreciative for every chance he has to play the game he loves.