In October 2021, LA Galaxy figure Julian Araujo declared his loyalty for the Mexican national team. He filed for FIFA’s one-time switch, leaving the United States men’s national team for El Tri.
Araujo was born in Lompoc, California to Mexican parents, making him a prominent dual-nationality player. He initially represented the USMNT at several youth levels before making his senior debut in 2020. But he did not meet the cap maximum, making him eligible to switch his allegiance to Mexico.
After declining a call up by USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter to the 2021 Gold Cup, the midfielder made the shocking announcement.
“It was one of the most important decisions I’ve ever had to make to this day. Ultimately it was one I made at heart. Ever since I was a little kid I wanted to represent Mexico. I dreamed of celebrating goals with Mexico, playing with the guys I am here with today,” he explained exclusively to 90min. “It was a dream come true.”
Since then, Araujo has recorded three appearances for the Mexican national team, debuting in December 2021 during an international friendly against Chile before going on to feature in a World Cup qualifying match.
The player recalled the feeling of sporting the special jersey for the first time, labeling the experience “beautiful.”
“When I first put on the jersey, I was very happy. It was just something that was going to come to life. It was something that was bound to happen. I was just so happy, I woke up in the hotel, sent videos to all my friends and family while getting ready for the game. It was a beautiful moment,” he recalled.
“It’s insane to me, it’s still kind of surreal to play with players I grew up watching. Everybody are such good guys, everyone accepted me with open hands. All good guys, we all chat. I’ve watched them as a little kid, and it’s just crazy. I’m a little fanboy, but they’re all good guys and I am happy to be around them.”
Beyond professional accolades, Araujo admitted playing for El Tri at the Azteca Stadium fulfilled the dream of having his family in Mexico to see him play professionally for the first time.
“Playing now, it’s completely stress free. I am very at peace with myself. Most importantly, I’m happy, my family is happy. My family from Mexico is very happy. They never get to come see me play here in the states, so it was a beautiful moment for them to come watch me play while in Mexico for the World Cup qualifiers. They all came down, I hadn’t seen them in many years. It was a beautiful time, one of the happiest I’ve ever had.”