For those that don’t know, it is infectious how Real Salt Lake as a team has bought into the coaches’ system. In San Jose and Dallas, Alvarez had unlimited freedom on the flanks to get wide, to go forward, to attack. At Salt Lake, he’ll either be up top or tucked inside a bit, and either way he’ll be asked to do a lot more defensive work than he has been in the past when he was surrounded by Simo Valakari, Richard Mulrooney, Brandon MacDonald, etc.
With RSL, he’ll be able to relax and just play due to the numbers around him. The infectious mentality at RSL has changed players, and allowed them to execute precisely what is expected of them. The 4-4-2 diamond is a different formation than most of MLS uses, responsibilities are clear, a very certain way how midfielders are asked to play that diamond, with the understanding that they have to have for each other.
When I was with legendary U.S. National Team manager Clive Charles on the Olympic team, we played in this diamond formation. The best thing about it is that no matter what you are playing against, you know what the matchups are against a 4-4-2, a 4-5-1 or whatever your opponents are playing. It’s a clear-cut system. Go back and look at the tapes of our games in Sydney, and you’ll see that Chris Albright and Ben Olsen were wide midfielders on that Olympic team, and they played tucked in as Will Johnson, Andy Williams and Ned Grabavoy do now for RSL. We should have won the bronze with that team, but that’s a different story for another time!
With Alvarez, RSL has yet another player – like Saborio, Beckerman, Rimando, and several others - that know what international competition is like. Alvarez is a Salvadoran national team player, he can compete at highest level and that’s every player’s dream. This is another player who knows the hostile environments throughout CONCACAF, knows how to deal with bad surfaces, tense situations - just like Andy Williams does - and knows how to succeed despite the challenges.
Alvarez provides MLS’ deepest team even more experience, and now with RSL he has an opportunity to prove that he is the player everyone has been expecting him to be during his time in MLS.
Follow Brian Dunseth on Twitter @BP_TOW or check out his soccer lifestyle hits at TheOriginalWinger.com and BumpyPitch.com … He can also be seen on MLS broadcasts on Fox Soccer Channel and Real Salt Lake broadcasts on KUTV 2 / MyUtah (2.2 over-the-air / Comcast 111 / Dish 12)