Lights FC's Carlos Alvarez (right) works around his younger brother - LA Galaxy II's Efrain Alvarez - during a 2-1 loss at Cashman Field on Saturday, September 8, 2018. (CREDIT: L.E. Baskow / Lights FC)
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In multiple ways, Carlos Alvarez was an ideal player for Las Vegas Lights FC to have as one of its leading men in this inaugural season.
Inevitably, the first year of play for any expansion club will see highs and lows. Alvarez has experienced some of both along the way in his own career, and now is helping steer the ship in Las Vegas in 2018 as a team’s identity to move forward is being molded on the fly.
“We have established a work ethic here,” the 27-year-old midfielder said. “No matter what, we finish each play, we play each day like it’s our last, because you never know when that could be. That’s how this team treats it, and our fight is the main thing. We fight for everything – Literally every little inch.”
Lights FC has certainly earned a reputation around the 33-team USL as one of its most aggressive, physical outfits, and opposing teams know they’re never in for an easy night when Las Vegas pops up on the schedule. While helping be the embodiment of that physical spirit Lights FC has become known for, Alvarez’s unique 2-way skills haven’t hurt along the way, either.
He’s been a force on both ends of the pitch, and the former No. 2 overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft, with seven matches still to play, is tied for the club lead in goals (6) and assists (4).
Alvarez says one thing that has helped along the way for him personally this season has been the constant presence of his family. Playing close to where he grew up in Southern California, he’s had his wife, Renae, and young son, Romeo, with him in Las Vegas for the bulk of the 2018 season.
Plus, he had several extended family members in the stands at Cashman Field last Saturday night, as the club took on LA Galaxy II and his 16-year-old brother, Efrain, who happens to be one of the USL’s top young stars. It was the two brothers’ first time squaring off as professionals.
Benefitting from having family nearby, Alvarez has used that to help be one of the leaders helping formulate family-like bonds within the roster, which has made tougher times a little easier to endure.
“Obviously, having my wife and son next to me means the world for me – I work for them, everything I do is for them, everything I sacrifice is for them,” Alvarez said. “It has helped a lot, because when things don’t go right, they’re the ones that pick me up, they’re the ones supporting me and who remind me that it will all turn around.
“In turn, the bonding and the unity and the brotherhood we have here is great. We’ve had some hard times, and by supporting each other, we are always coming out of them together with our heads high.”
That type of mentality and leadership will be as valuable as ever as Lights FC takes the dive into its final seven matches of the season, with many coming against top Western Conference competition. That starts Sunday, Sept. 16, at 6 p.m. at Cashman Field vs. Portland Timbers 2.
Though not mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, it will take several wins and a lot of help for Lights FC to hang in the picture until the end. And the team is confident still that it can do just that.
To close out a year that is doubling as a learning and building process for the future, Alvarez is one player who knows that what happens in these final seven matches can have plenty of value moving forward into 2019 and beyond.
“These last seven games, each one is going to be a fight – We need to win each one,” Alvarez said. “It doesn’t matter who is in front of us. It’s about us, and it’s about getting three points every time
“We’ve had some lows, sure, but we’re starting to figure things out here in the final months of the season, and we’ve found some positives that this club will head into next season with.”