Real Salt Lake youngster Carlos Salcedo's call to Mexico U-21s continues long family soccer tradition

Real Salt Lake defender Carlos Salcedo

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USA Today Sports

SANDY, Utah – Real Salt Lake defender Carlos Salcedo’s recent call-up to the Mexican Under-21 national team is a special moment for the player himself, it's nothing new for his family.

After all, he will be the fourth Salcedo to be called upon to represent his country on the soccer field – but only the second to represent Mexico.

Salcedo’s father, also named Carlos, played for Guadalajara-based Club Atlas until his career was cut short by a knee injury. And three other members of his family have played for national teams, two north of the border and one in Mexico.

“Yeah, that's right,” Salcedo told MLSsoccer.com with a smile on Tuesday. “My family has played for both countries. Two of my [relatives], they played for the US. And my great grandfather, he played for Mexico.”

Salcedo always knew he wanted to play for a national team, he just wasn't sure which one.

“But I'm very, very happy about this opportunity,” he said.

In addition to his great grandfather, Salcedo’s great uncle, Hugo Salcedo, played for the American team at the 1972 Mexico City Olympics.

His cousin, Jorge Salcedo, played professionally in Mexico and the United States, including in MLS from 1996 to 2000 with the LA Galaxy, Columbus Crew, Chicago Fire and Tampa Bay Mutiny. He also captained the US Under-17 national team in 1987, the U-20 team in 1990, had three caps with the USMNT, and is now the head soccer coach at UCLA.

“And now I'm playing for Mexico,” said the normally stoic Carlos, breaking into another smile. “It's fantastic. At the end of the day, I'm happy for this. Whatever team wants me, I'm going to go for it.”

Salcedo has been called in for Mexico’s April 20-23 camp in Mexico City to prepare for the 2016 Olympics. Mexico are the defending gold medalists, having won the top prize at the 2012 Games in London.

“It's a fantastic opportunity for Carlos to show the Mexican Federation how much he's progressed since coming to us,” RSL coach Jeff Cassar told reporters. “So I couldn't be more excited for him.”

This is the first time that Salcedo, who is also in the early stages of applying for US citizenship, has been called up for national duty. He said he had some talks with the team's coaching staff but was caught at least somewhat by surprise when they called.

“They never said when they were going to call me,” Salcedo said. “So I just kept working and trying to do my best with the team and show I have what it takes.”

Salcedo is the fourth RSL player to be called for duty on a youth national team in the past month. Defender/midfielder Jordan Allen and forward Benji Lopez were called to the US U-20 team last week, while recent signee Justen Glad – a product of RSL's Arizona Academy – recently joined the US U-18s. Glad was joined at the U-18 camp by two other RSL-Arizona Academy players, goalkeeper Christian Herrera and forward Sebastián Saucedo.

“It means we're doing something right here,” Cassar said. “Our players are committed on and off the field. I think our recruiting process is going really well. And, obviously, the players coming from the academy are doing a great job.”