Pablo Alvarez had his sights set on Major League Soccer for the past few years.
The midfielder wanted to make a move to the United States and accomplished just that prior to the 2015 MLS season.
New York City FC signed Alvarez from UP Langreo of Spain’s Segunda División B on March 6.
“I think it’s a league that is growing a lot,” Alvarez said. “I think it’s so different than European leagues. I have a lot of experience playing in Spain, so for me, it was time to change. It’s great to play in your home country, but for me, my career there was complete and it was time to play here.”
Alvarez, 34, has played for Sporting Gijón (2001-06), Deportivo La Coruña (2006-12) and Lugo (2012-14) prior to joining Langreo last season. He also had a loan spell at Racing Santander in 2008.
He made his New York City FC debut coming on as a late substitution in a 1-0 loss to Portland on April 19. Alvarez earned his first-ever start and played the full 90 minutes in a 3-1 loss to Seattle on May 3.
“For me the most important goal is the team and winning,” he said. “I am sad because of the score of the game, but I’m happy because I got to try to help the team.”
Alvarez was a trialist with New York City FC in the preseason, joining the Club for tours in Jacksonville, Fla.; Manchester, England and Charleston, S.C.
“Most MLS clubs provide opportunities for guys on trials to see how they do and he 100 percent earned this opportunity to be with us,” Sporting Director Claudio Reyna said. “He got better and better with each week.”
Not only was Reyna pleased with Alvarez’s work ethic and character, his versatility is an added asset. Alvarez can play in any attacking role, according to Reyna, whether it’s behind the striker or out wide on either side.
Alvarez, who has never been to the United States prior to joining New York City FC as a trialist, said his teammates and coaches made him feel very comfortable in preseason training.
“Everyone was very nice to me,” he said. “I feel very good. I am enjoying this experience a lot and I’m working very hard to be part of this team. I think I can help the team.”
Despite never having played in MLS or America, Alvarez has a familiarity and relationship on and off the field with one of his teammates. Alvarez played with forward David Villa at Sporting Gijón.
“I’m very glad for Pablo because he has taken the opportunity of trying out and now gets to play with New York City FC,” Villa said. “Pablo and I have been friends forever and Pablo joining the Club made me very happy. We will be able to share another stage in our lives yet again.”
Alvarez is equally as excited to rejoin Villa, Spain’s all-time leading scorer.
“David is the best player I’ve ever played with,” Alvarez said. “He’s a very good friend of mine. It’s very great to play together again. We have a very good relationship on the pitch; we understand each other.
“Looking back, to think 12 years ago that we would play together again here in the U.S. was inconceivable. For that, I am very happy.”