After years of playing for the US men’s national team youth divisions, Julian Araujo made the difficult decision to file for FIFA’s one-time switch to represent Mexico.
The LA Galaxy midfielder featured for the Under 20 and Under 23 USMNT sides before officially debuting with the senior squad in 2020. But Araujo was never cap-tied.
And in 2021, he petitioned for a switch and was declared approved by FIFA.
“My heart is with Mexico. I’m grateful for every opportunity that U.S. Soccer has provided me to help me grow as a soccer player and now I am excited to continue my international career with Mexico,” Araujo said in a statement after announcing the switch.
The player recently dove into the process behind the emotional decision during 90min’s Football Americana, adding that it wasn’t as easy as it may have appeared at the time.
“I just started journaling to myself, not even just about it. Just about how I feel. At the end of the day, I didn’t want to make a decision where if I chose to play for US … I didn’t want to choose to play for US, and then the next day, be like, “Damn, I should’ve went with Mexico.” So I took time. I knew I needed time throughout.
“And being raised in a Mexican household, I grew up watching all these guys, like Chicharito, Guillermo Ochoa, Gerardo. All these guys. It was just, I woke up to watch World Cup games. And I never woke up to watch a US game like that. I have Chicharito’s jersey in 2014. And it’s just crazy, because all my life, I wanted to play for the Mexican National team obviously. When that time came, I still had to decide. I still had a lot of stress on me.”
During that time, Araujo declined the USMNT’s Gold Cup and September call ups to ponder his future.
“I had conversations with my family, with my friends, with players that played for the US, with players that played for the Mexican National team. And players that had that dual citizenship. But it was a hard one. Something that took a lot of stress for me. I knew I was stressed when I couldn’t sleep.
“And it was just something that came to my mind every day. Every day I would talk about it. So at the end of the day, I just made a decision that felt good in my heart. When I made my decision, I was happy.”
Since making the switch, Arauajo has represented Mexico twice. He debuted on December 8, during a friendly against Chile. He later played for El Tri again during the World Cup qualifier against Panama.
As the Mexican national team gears up for the 2022 World Cup, Araujo is securing minutes with the LA Galaxy to book a spot on Gerardo Martino’s roster.