‘Tata’ eyes Galaxy duo for Mexico over USMNT

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MEXICO CITY — Mexico men’s national team head coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino has spoken to LA Galaxy duo Julian Araujo and Efrain Alvarez recently to discuss the possibilities of both dual U.S.-Mexico nationals playing for El Tri.

Alvarez, 18, has already featured for Mexico at youth team level, but 19-year-old Araujo has played for United States youth national teams, including the Under-23s.

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“Efrain Alvarez and Julian Araujo are players we follow carefully,” said Martino after he was asked about whether Alvarez could soon be called into the full national team squad. “In Efrain’s case, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with him and he is excited about his situation with Mexico.

“[Alvarez] has competed in [Mexico’s] youth national teams and in time he’ll be a national team player for sure, in accordance with his development and growth with the Galaxy,” continued the Argentine. “There’s no need to rush him, he’s very young, we have to go carefully.”

Martnio admitted that the case of Araujo is a little different because of his relatively recent involvement within the U.S. set-up.

“Araujo is definitely doing really well,” stated Martino. “I’ve had contact with him around 20 days ago. I told him that I hope he can be a part of the Mexican national team. He told us that he’ll talk it over with his family and his agent about which path he will take [at national team level], but they are two boys we have a lot of hope for.”

Araujo recently said he is undecided as yet as to his national team future.

“It’s definitely hard, I stress a lot about it,” Araujo told Extratime Radio. “I’ve received calls from both coaches, both staffs. It’s hard because I have dual-citizenship. I’ve kind of put it aside right now because I’m getting minutes [with the Galaxy] so I’m focused on my club.

“For me being 19 receiving calls from both sides, it’s a tough decision,” he stressed. “[It’s] not a feeling I like to feel. I’m just waiting on whoever gives me the better opportunity. So far the U.S. has given it to me. But you never know what’ll happen. I’m going to go with whoever makes me more successful in my career.”

The Mexico national team has other dual-national issues at present, with Cruz Azul striker Santiago Gimenez and Monterrey’s Rogelio Funes Mori also making headlines in Mexico.

19-year-old Gimenez was born in Argentina and raised in Mexico. He has been called up by Martino although the Argentina national team is interested in calling him up.

“He’s playing his first games and he’s doing very well with Cruz Azul,” said Martino. “I didn’t speak to him about Argentina because I’m ruling it out. I see that his desire is to play for Mexico. He’s shown very interesting qualities.”

Argentine Funes Mori, 29, is established as a top striker in Liga MX and due to new FIFA rules could play for Mexico if he gets citizenship, which he said in a recent interview he would be doing.

Martino didn’t want to talk directly about Funes Mori, but indicated he is open to calling in naturalized players if they are available and would add to the squad.

The former Barcelona and Atlanta United coach also announced his domestic-based squad for next Wednesday’s friendly against Guatemala.

Goalkeepers: Guillermo Ochoa, Hugo Gonzalez, Alfredo Talavera, Rodolfo Cota

Defenders: Luis Rodriguez, Jorge Sanchez, Cesar Montes, Salcedo, Gilberto Sepulveda, Johan Vasquez, Jesus Gallardo, Miguel Layun, Luis Romo

Midfielders: Roberto Alvarado, Uriel Antuna, Ivan Rodriguez, Carlos Rodriguez, Fernando Beltran, Sebastian Cordova, Luis Chavez, Orbelin Pineda

Forwards: Alexis Vega, Santiago Gimenez, Henry Martin, Jose Juan Macias