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Former Championship Standouts Alvarez, Ochoa Earn U.S. Men’s National Team Call-Ups

By USLChampionship.com Staff, 11/30/20, 5:00PM EST

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2018 Young Player of the Year, 2019 Championship Final-Winner joined by contingent of newcomers

CHICAGO – 2018 USL Championship Young Player of the Year Efrain Alvarez and 2019 USL Championship Final-winner David Ochoa were among the first-time call-ups to the United States Men’s National Team on Monday for the side’s exhibition against El Salvador at Inter Miami CF Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. scheduled for Wednesday, December 9.

The duo are among 13 players that have previously played in the Championship to be named in Head Coach Gregg Berhalter’s 22-player squad, with the experience of Aaron Long – the Championship’s Defender of the Year in 2016 – and Mark McKenzie (Philadelphia Union II) being joined by newcomers including Ayo Akinola (Toronto FC II), Frankie Amaya (Orange County SC), Cole Bassett (Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC) and Marco Farfan (Portland Timbers 2).

“Since returning to the field, the focus has been on continuing to build on our foundation and preparing the team for important competitions in 2021,” said Berhalter. “We have utilized these opportunities to work with our core group while evaluating young talent in an effort to strengthen our overall player pool.”

Alvarez has spent time with both the U.S. and Mexico youth national teams in addition to competing for both the LA Galaxy II and LA Galaxy in his professional career. He signed with Los Dos late in the 2017 season, at the time becoming the youngest signing in Championship history, and then had a breakout campaign the following year as he recorded 12 goals in 17 appearances, averaging a goal every 103.3 minutes. Having appeared in the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup for Mexico, Alvarez would need to file a one-time switch to be able to play for the United States.

Ochoa, meanwhile, was one of the key players as Real Monarchs SLC claimed the 2019 USL Championship Final. In a year that also saw him compete for the United States U-20 National Team at the FIFA U-20 World Cup during the summer, Ochoa made 20 appearances for the Monarchs and registered a 71.9 save percentage. In the Championship Final, he produced a six-save display as the Monarchs became the first team to win the title as a visiting side, defeating Louisville City FC 3-1 at Lynn Stadium.

In addition to the Championship alumni selected for the first time, three former standouts in USL League Two have also earned their first selections after impressive rookie seasons in Major League Soccer. The Orlando City SC forward pair of Chris Mueller (Des Moines Menace, FC Chicago United) and Daryl Dike – who trained with Energy FC as well as competing for Energy FC U-23 in League Two as part of the club’s academy program – and former Tobacco Road FC and North Carolina FC U-23s defender Mauricio Pineda – now with the Chicago Fire – are part of the squad for the first time.

United States Men’s National Team vs. El Salvador
Wednesday, December 9 – 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN Network / Unimas / TUDN)
Inter Miami CF Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

GOALKEEPERS (3): CJ Dos Santos (Benfica/POR; 0/0), Bill Hamid (D.C. United; 7/0), David Ochoa (Real Monarchs SLC; 0/0)

DEFENDERS (8): Julian Araujo (LA Galaxy II; 0/0), Kyle Duncan (New York Red Bulls II; 0/0), Marco Farfan (Portland Timbers 2; 0/0), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls II; 17/3), Mark McKenzie (Philadelphia Union II; 1/0), Mauricio Pineda (Chicago Fire; 0/0), Sam Vines (Charlotte Independence; 1/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 12/2)

MIDFIELDERS (5): Brenden Aaronson (Philadelphia Union II; 1/0), Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids; 23/2), Frankie Amaya (Orange County SC; 0/0), Cole Bassett (Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC; 0/0), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy II; 16/3)

FORWARDS (6): Ayo Akinola (Toronto FC II/CAN; 0/0), Efrain Alvarez (LA Galaxy II; 0/0), Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 33/5), Daryl Dike (Orlando City SC; 0/0), Djordje Mihailovic (Chicago Fire; 5/1), Chris Mueller (Orlando City SC; 0/0)

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