In 2021, Julian Araujo announced his decision to file for FIFA’s one-time switch to represent Mexico.
The midfielder had been a recurrent figure in USMNT youth training camps and competitions prior to his shocking revelation. He represented the United States in the Under-20 and Under-23 sides before debuting with the senior team in 2020, but Araujo was never cap-tied.
Araujo petitioned for a change and was approved by FIFA, and he hasn’t been the only one. Major League Soccer goalkeeper David Ochoa followed a similar path when opting for Mexico over the United States.
The Real Salt Lake figure featured for the USMNT Under-20 side, and even competed with the senior team against Mexico during the dramatic Nations League victory before filing the paperwork.
The decision to pick a side is never easy, but Araujo insists its one players must make with their hearts.
“It's a good thing to have to make a decision like that," he told 90min's Football Americana. "To have two countries want you, it's a good thing. It's a stressful thing. It's a difficult one. But you know what? At the end of the day, just make a decision that you feel good about where your heart is.
"People are going to judge, but as long as you're happy with the decision, as long as you're, you're comfortable with it, you can work hard.”
The advice comes as a new generation of dual citizenship arises. Ricardo Pepi also famously picked a side, opting for the US national team over Mexico.
“Whoever it is can be that next guy for whatever national team it is," Araujo continued. "I made a decision that was with my heart, and I feel very good about it. I haven't talked to Pepi about how or what he did. Or what made him feel that. But I'm sure he would tell you the same thing. It's a decision that he made with his heart.
“I think that's the best thing I can say is just make a decision that you feel good in your heart. My choice felt that it was right for Mexico. And I feel super good. I'm happy. And I think, obviously, taking time, talking to your family, writing down the pros and the cons. And just balancing it out. And just take time to yourself. And at the end of the day, it doesn't matter what anybody else says, but yourself. If you're happy, you're happy.”
Marcelo Flores, Richi Ledezma, Obed Vargas, Jonathan Gomez and Alex Mendez are just a few that will soon have to choose between nations. As the era of dual citizenships unfolds, Araujo's advice will become vital.