LA Galaxy defender Julian Araujo has confirmed that he has switched his international allegiance from the United States to Mexico, stating that his heart lies with the latter.
The 20-year-old, a once-capped senior USMNT international who represented the Stars and Stripes throughout his youth career, holds dual citizenship with both nations.
But having reportedly turned down a place in this year's U.S. Gold Cup squad over fears of becoming cap-tied to his home country, the California native has now revealed that he will play for El Tri.
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What has been said?
"The best part of being Mexican American is that I carry two flags. It is one of the things about myself that brings me great pride.
"I'm proud to be a Mexican American and being raised in a Mexican American household is a privilege for which I am forever grateful.
"Growing up watching the Mexican national team in the World Cup was a unifying moment for my family. Watching them inspired me to pursue a dream of playing professional soccer.
"My heart is with Mexico. I'm grateful for every opportunity that U.S. soccer provided me to help me grow as a soccer player and now I am excited to continue my international career with Mexico.
"Coming from a family of farmworkers, I was instilled with the values of hard work, dedication and resilience,
"Thanks to the sacrifices that my family and I have put in on and off the pitch, I have the confidence to make this decision today.
"I hope to contribute to this sport for years to come and inspire the next generation of athletes on both sides of the border. Si se puede."
Defender completes international shift
Born and raised in Santa Barbara County, Araujo's future on the world stage has long been the subject of intense speculation given his freedom to represent either the USA or Mexico.
He accepted the invitation to represent the USMNT at youth level and was a member of the 2019 U-20 World Cup squad that reached the quarter-finals, shortly after the Galaxy acquired him.
But having won his first cap against El Salvador for the senior side last year, he had resisted further call-ups over a reluctance to cross the cap threshold that would deny a potential swap.
The bigger picture
With his move only just approved, Araujo's switch comes too late for him to make El Tri's latest squad for the October international break.
However, he may be in the frame for November's selection, as Mexico continue to build towards the Qatar 2022 World Cup.
Gerardo Martino's side lead the third round of CONCACAF qualification after three games, and are unbeaten in their campaign to date.