Mexico have struck first in giving Los Angeles-born winger Joe Benny Corona his first international call-up. El Tri named the 21-year-old Club Tijuana winger to their Under-22 squad on Wednesday, trumping a possible call-up from his country of birth.
Corona revealed in an interview with ESPN.com this week that he was on former US coach Bob Bradley’s preliminary roster for the Aug. 10 friendly against Mexico and that he probably would have accepted the call had Bradley not been axed in favor of Jurgen Klinsmann.
But on Wednesday, Corona received a chance to represent Mexico, one of three countries for whom he's eligible to suit up.
“There were rumors [Mexico] were looking at me,” said Corona on Jorge Ramos’ show on ESPN Radio on Wednesday afternoon. “I’m very happy. It’s a challenge I’m ready to take on."
The Mexico call-up comes just before Klinsmann is due to name the US squad for friendlies against Costa Rica and Belgium on Sept. 2 and Sept. 6 — the same dates the Mexican U-22 team is due to play Chile in two separate exhibitions.
Corona would face a major dilemma if Klinsmann names him to the US squad — Mexico's U-22s are due to meet on Aug. 28, so he would already have met up with El Tri by then.
"It would be a very complicated decision," Corona told ESPN Radio of that scenario. "We know the United States has a great project now with Klinsmann. It depends on a lot. It depends if both call me up at the same time or if the United States calls me up first [to the senior team]."
Playing for the Mexican U-22s will not discount Corona from being called up by the United States. However, the young Californian has previously told MLSsoccer.com his first choice would be Mexico, but that he’s leaving the door open for the US as well.
Corona has lived back and forth between the US and Mexico all his life and recently told MLSsoccer.com that he was working hard at his club side in order to be in a position where he has to choose between national teams. Corona — whose mother is from El Salvador — can also play for the La Selecta, but has turned down recent advances by that country’s federation.
Fellow Californian Miguel Ángel Ponce, the regular left back for Mexican Primera División toppers Chivas de Guadalajara, was also named to Mexico’s U-22 team after impressing for El Tri in this summer’s Copa América with a similar group of players.
Tom Marshall can be reached at email@example.com or via Twitter: @mexicoworldcup