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LA Galaxy's Julian Araujo feeds off competition of first US national team camp

BRADENTON, Fla, — Fresh off a solid rookie season with the LA Galaxy, Julian Araujo has earned his first call-up to the US men’s national team.

And at 18 years old, that makes him the latest example of young blood injected into Gregg Berhalter’s side, and also the latest player with dual US and Mexico citizenship to lean toward making his full international career with the Yanks.

“I think what it comes down to is we want to have an environment players want to be in,” Berhalter said. “When it comes to dual nationals, players have to choose with their heart. They have to choose what program they think can put them in the best possible position. Sometimes it’s going to be us, sometimes it’s going to be other countries.”

While the California native's parents were both born in Mexico, Araujo began competing for the US at the U-18 level and was a part of the Americans' 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup squad. Now he's relishing his first senior national team camp invite.

“Obviously it’s a new opportunity for me and a lot of the other young guys,” Araujo said. “It’s been a really good learning experience.”

Araujo credits teammate and fellow right back Reggie Cannon with helping him improve.

“Everything’s a challenge. We’re both fighting for a spot,” he said. “Ultimately, we’re just helping each other get better every day. I’ve already learned so much here. Being around all the older guys, they’ve taken us younger guys in.”

On the club level, Araujo is locked in a similar battle. He made 10 starts for the Galaxy last season, but is looking forward to possibly doubling that number while he competes with Venezuela international Rolfe Feltscher.

“My goal now with the Galaxy is to become a starter. I know I’m young, but I feel like I can fight for that position,” Araujo said. “Coming here with the older guys and having my first national team call-up, I feel like going back to the Galaxy will bring in a lot of confidence and I feel like my playing level will be a lot higher.”

“When I get back, I’ll be ready to work and hopefully fight for my starting spot and make those 10 starting games into 20.”

Araujo is also hoping to impress Jason Kreis, the coach of the US U-23 national team who was in attendance at the camp. Kreis' squad will compete in the Concacaf Men's Olympic Qualifying Championship beginning in late March.

“It’s a dream for everyone to play in the U-23 Olympic team,” he said. “Obviously, everyone wants to do that. It’s an exciting thing to know we can be there. We have the U-23 coach here, trying to show him as well.”

Club, country and the Olympics are all on the youngster’s mind, but the pressure of it all doesn’t seem to phase him. He said he finds this call-up as an opportunity to show the coaching staff what the young guys are about.

“It’s going to be tough” Araujo said. “But I’m ready for the challenge.”