Why Seattle's Obed Vargas switched from USA to Mexico

Obed Vargas - Seattle Sounders - jersey

A rising star at Seattle Sounders FC, Obed Vargas made waves this week when it was revealed he had completed a FIFA-approved one-time switch from the United States to represent Mexico at the international level.

The 18-year-old homegrown midfielder didn't take the decision lightly, he explained to reporters after Thursday's training session.

"The thought process was simple for me: It's the team I grew up watching," Vargas said. "It's a way for me to honor my family, my culture.

"My whole family is Mexican. So it was just the team I grew up watching, the team I feel the most love towards."

Vargas makes the switch after initially representing the US on the youth international circuit, including the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Argentina. He's also played twice for the US U-23s.

However, Vargas' family ties to El Tri run deep. His father is a former youth player for Mexican side Monarcas Morelia (also the former club of Sounders teammate Raúl Ruidíaz) before relocating to Anchorage, Alaska.

"I started in the US system. I started playing for the Sounders, the US was the first team that reached out to me," Vargas said. "And how could I give up an opportunity to play for the US, you know? The US gave me a lot and I felt so honored to represent them. But I thought it was the right moment for me to make this switch and play for the team I was wanting to play for.

"... [The US] did everything, they always treated me right," Vargas continued. "They gave me opportunities, they had so much belief in me. And [Mexico] was just the team I wanted to play for and the team I love."

Vargas has established himself in 2024, emerging as a first-choice starter for Seattle. He even recorded his first career MLS goal against the Philadelphia Union on April 30.

Since turning pro in December 2021, Vargas has made 63 all-competition appearances for the Sounders. He's come a long way since featuring in Seattle's historic 2022 Concacaf Champions League Final triumph.

"I didn't ask for anything, they didn't offer me anything," Vargas said of choosing Mexico. "Everything I have to earn and whenever they call me up, they call me up. I'm not sure when that is. I'm not sure what level it's going to be at.

"This decision, I left everything aside, all the benefits, anything that any national team could possibly offer me – and I just made it with my heart," he added.