Spotlight: U17 World Cup and Mexico’s Efrain Alvarez

A look at the U17 World Cup and LA Galaxy wonderkid Efrain Alvarez


The 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup ended yesterday with a cracking game between Mexico and Brazil.

The Brazilians managed to win the final 1-2, courtesy of goals from Kaio and Lazaro. Bryan Gonzalez scored Mexico’s solitary goal.

Below we take a look at players who stood out during the competition, with particular focus on Efrain Alvarez, Mexico and LA Galaxy‘s wonderkid.

Scoring Prowess

France were by far the most offensively proficient team in the competition. The French not only top the expected goals chart (15.88 xG), but they also lead the total goals table as well (22 goals).

In other words, not only were they able to fashion the most high-quality chances in the tournament, but they also managed to score more goals than normally expected from the chances presented to them.

Following the French in the expected goals table are the Dutch (13.06 xG), Mexicans (12.61) and Brazilians (12.1 xG), with fairly similar numbers. What’s impressive here is that the Brazilians far exceeded their xG by a full 7 goals, reaching 19 goals in total. This highlights the individual quality and long-shot ability of the Brazilians, as well as their aggression in second-ball situations in crowded boxes, with numerous bodies between the ball and the goal.

Total Goals vs Expected Goals

Keeping It Tight

Naturally, both finalists had some of the best defensive performances in the tournament. Mexico conceded just 3 goals (2 of them in the final), while Brazil conceded just 5 goals. Mexico actually outperformed their expected goals conceded figure here, as they conceded 4.38 goals fewer than their 7.38 xGA would suggest.

The Dutch relied on their offensive ability to see them through, as their defense conceded the second-most goals in the competition with a total of 12. This is nearly perfectly aligned with their expected goals conceded figure of 10.95 xGA

Expected goals against

Mexico’s Efrain Alvarez

Efrain Alvarez, LA Galaxy’s talented midfielder, was expectedly one of the key players in the competition. The young Mexican did not disappoint with a stellar showing in the tournament.

Alvarez’s positional heatmap

Alvarez registered a combined 6 goals and assists (third highest) in 6 games. Of those, his 4 goals are the third-highest total in the tournament, although it’s shared with 3 other players. What’s astounding here is that he doesn’t even feature in the top 30 players in the expected goals table.

In other words, with the opportunities presented to him, he was expected to score just once.

His assists are much more aligned, with his 2 assists somewhat matching the 1.71 he expected to provide.

Efrain Alvarez

The left-footed youngster is showing tremendous promise and is meeting any realistic expectations that can be reasonably demanded from any 17-year-old player. The important thing is that his development is on track for the time being, having played a healthy 579 minutes for LA Galaxy in the MLS so far this season. He has managed 1 assist so far, with 12 shots on target and 0.82 xG. It goes without saying that it is worth keeping an eye on him. I’m certain several European clubs are doing the same.


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