Zendejas at U.S. men’s soccer camp after a stint in Mexico, but future is unclear

CARSON, Calif. (AP) — Alejandro Zendejas insists he’s not thinking about his future beyond his first training camp with the US senior national team this week.

Zendejas does not stop anyone from speculating about the long-term international home of the talented striker.

“I’m enjoying the moment taking advantage of the opportunity I have this week,” Zendehas said. “I’m focused on tomorrow’s game.”

On Tuesday, Zendejas repeatedly dodged and dodged questions about both the future and the recent past, which put him in the midst of a fierce competition between the two countries for his services.

A week after FIFA ordered Mexico to annul two matches in which Zendejas played for El Tri because his move from the US youth system was never approved, Zendejas could make his US debut on Wednesday night at the BMO stadium near the center Los Angeles. friendly match against Serbia.

While his day-to-day work at Club América is going great, the 24-year-old Zendejas’ international future is bleak after this week. Zendejas indicated that he has not yet made a decision whether to represent the US or Mexico, although he still has the option to do so.

“Honestly, I don’t really like to pay attention to what’s going on outside of football because that’s my job,” Zendehas said. “I’m just focused on what I can do on the field, how I can help the team in the best possible way.”

Zendejas ducked again when asked if he even wanted to play for the US in extra matches or in the CONCACAF Gold Cup later this year.

“I hope we get that win (Wednesday) and on a personal level, I hope it’s a great game for me,” Zendehas said. “I’ll probably focus on the future once we get to that point of view.”

As his US teammates reported back on their first training session at January camp last Saturday, Zendejas was busy scoring a sensational goal for America against Puebla. Zendejas will return to America after Wednesday’s friendly to prepare for his club team’s next game on Saturday.

In the meantime, Zendejas is enjoying the opportunity to “reconnect with the guys,” he said.

“It’s been an eternity, probably six years, since I moved to Mexico,” he added. “The connection was interrupted for a while, but it’s nice to see the guys again. We are all jokers.”

Zendayas’ decision regarding his future may depend on many factors related to finances, comfort and long-term future. Neither El Three nor the US currently has a full-time head coach, and the attitude of the new bosses towards Zendejas’ talents could be an important factor.

The American team is in constant motion under interim coach Anthony Hudson amid the absence of Gregg Berhalter, whose contract expired at the end of last year. US Soccer is investigating Berhalter over a controversial dispute involving American player Gio Reina’s family.

“Honestly, I didn’t think we would have a chance (Zendeja for this camp),” Hudson said. “The club was amazing, very positive, very supportive of his arrival… I was shocked. Alejandro was also glad to enter. What a good guy he is. We are very lucky to have him.”

Both countries are still actively recruiting Zendejas, who grew up in El Paso. He also spent almost two years with Dallas before moving to Chivas in 2016. This transition coincided with his move from the US to Mexico as an international player. Zendejas received minimal playing time at Chivas and eventually moved to Nexaca on a free transfer in 2020.

“When I moved to Nexaka, I got more playing time,” Zendehas said. “I guess you could say that I’ve come into the spotlight again and now that I’ve moved to Club America, it’s helped me a bit.”

Two young US natives with Mexican parents recently took a different path in this eternal tug-of-war for North America’s top talent.

California goaltender David Ochoa played for the USA at several youth levels as recently as March 2021. Later that year, he defected to his parents’ native Mexico, although he had not yet competed for El Tri.

Julián Araujo, a California guard, made his US senior debut in December 2020 before moving to Mexico in late 2021. The 21-year-old Los Angeles Galaxy player played three games for El Tri.

Araujo became the third player to play for both Mexico and the United States, after Martin Vazquez and Edgar Castillo.

Other players in the American camp faced similar decisions, including goaltender Gaga Slonina, the American-born son of Polish immigrants who raised their family in Chicagoland.

“It was a really difficult choice,” said Slonina, 18, who signed with Chelsea last August. “I think it’s kind of a reward. I want to win trophies with this country. I want to win medals with this country and give the country what it deserves for the hard work we have put in. I have Polish roots, but my heart was American.”


AP Football: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports.

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