The 25-year-old midfielder scored three goals for San Jose last season and has the ability to create off the ball, as well as beat defenders off the ball.
Alvarez is also the lone major change from last year's core group that finished second in the Western Conference with a 15-4-11 record. He basically replaces speedy Robbie Findley, who is off to England to play for Nottingham Forest.
"[Findley] brings a different game to the field. A fast goal scorer," Alvarez said. "Any team would miss a player like that. I'm a player that combines with others.
"I don't look at this as replacing someone."
So far, the most difficult part of coming to RLS has been finding a place to live in Salt Lake City.
"It's been an easy transition," Alvarez said, adding that any pressure will only contribute to his wanting to perform better.
Just where he fits with RLS's core group will take time. Is he a midfielder or a forward? But Alvarez doesn't anticipate trouble. Though he's only 25, the Houston native has plenty of experience, having been part of Major League Soccer since 2003.
"He's a gifted technical player," RSL coach Jason Kreis said. "He'll go where the game dictates."
Lagerwey had been eyeing Alvarez for more than two years, when he was playing for Dallas. Alvarez was too expensive to grab when traded to newly formed San Jose in 2009, but an opening occurred during the recent expansion draft.
Portland was looking to trade certain players for more parts, and Lagerwey jumped. It was a pleasant surprise for Alvarez.
"I was in Houston, kind of going about with my dad, when my brother called. I was Portland's last pick," Alvarez said. "The next thing you know, about an hour or so later, I get a call with an 801 area code. It was Garth.
"I definitely was not expecting that to happen. This is one of the best teams in the league. Everybody is very intelligent and has a winning mentality. I want to be on a team like that."
Rimando extension official
Goalkeeper Nick Rimando has signed a one-year contract extension that will keep him with Real Salt Lake through the 2013 season, the team said Friday.
The 31-year-old Rimando was among the lowest-paid starting goalkeepers in Major League Soccer last season, something that will change with the new deal although financial terms weren't disclosed.
Michael C. Lewis