Questions about Julian Araujo’s international future may be persistent right now, but the youngster is insisting he is focused on the here and now. Both with club and country.
Araujo is poised to make his international debut on Wednesday night with the U.S. Men’s National Team, and that is what he is currently concentrating on. Even with him experiencing a club coaching change at the LA Galaxy. Even with his international future still being very much in the air given both Mexico and the USMNT’s interest in the dual national.
“I am just focused right now with (the) U.S. and the game against El Salvador,” said Araujo ahead of the friendly at Inter Miami CF Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “Obviously it is a tough decision and it is something that is really hard for me, but I do not think about it too much. Right now I am just focused and I just want to grow as a player and continue to get better each and every day.”
The 19-year-old Araujo took further strides in his development this past MLS season, racking up 1,298 minutes in the 17 starts in as many appearances that he had with the Galaxy. Along with playing time, Araujo benefited from the experience of playing in multiple positions, and not just his natural right back spot under now-former Galaxy head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto.
“Playing right mid was definitely something that helped me,” said Araujo. “To be able to play multiple positions at a professional level is definitely going to catch a coach’s eyes. I am someone that likes to run and help the team as much as possible and we needed someone at right wing so I was happy enough to do the job and help our team out. I learned a lot at right wing and getting that opportunity to play my game and be myself. I am thankful for that.”
Still, the American native of Mexican descent prefers playing as a defender.
“To be honest, right back is just where I feel most comfortable,” said Araujo. “I know I played right wing throughout the season and had some games there. It was difficult for me to adapt to, I did it but I am most comfortable at right back.”
It seems likely that USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter will deploy Araujo in the prospect’s preferred position on Wednesday night given the players that are available in this rare December camp. Regardless, Araujo is hoping to make an impression, especially after not getting the chance to see the field back in February in the national team’s 1-0 win over Costa Rica.
“It’s a big game for all of us young players and all the players that are going to be playing in the game to prove ourselves and show what we can do,” said Araujo. “If I get the opportunity, I just want to go out there and help the team and do my job.”
Araujo may be focused on this bout vs. Los Catrachos, but he has longer-term goals, too. He admitted on Monday that he wants to be a regular starter for whomever is the next Galaxy coach in 2021, and that he also would “love” to go to Europe to ply his trade and chase his “dreams” at some point in the future when the timing is right.
Of course, he will have to pick a national team to pledge his future to at some point as well. Right now, however, he is staying in the moment, focusing on the present.
“The national team has given me confidence,” said Araujo. “Last year going into January camp and after January camp going into the season, it gave me a lot of confidence of just being able to be myself and just working on things that I know I needed to work on. Even just getting advice with the coaching staff here in the U.S. and them helping me with what I need to work on has been something very helpful for me.
“It’s been a good camp so far. I’ve learned things that I didn’t learn in January, but I’m thankful for that as well.”