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Obed Vargas follows heart, switches from USA to Mexico

Vargas, 18, had been playing with the various U.S. youth national teams for about four years.

Last Updated
3 min read
Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

RENTON — When Obed Vargas watched the United States beat Mexico 2-0 in the most recent Concacaf Nations League final, you might assume he felt a degree of pride. Vargas has been involved with the USA’s youth national team setup since he was 14 years old and presumably aspired to eventually graduate to the senior national team.

Instead, Vargas only felt pain.

“It hurt so much,” Vargas told reporters following Thursday’s training session. “When I watch the teams play, I was more hurt that Mexico lost. You could tell inside that’s where my heart was.”

While it took Vargas until more recently to actually follow through on what his heart has been telling him to do all along, he now seems perfectly at peace with his decision to file a one-time switch from the USA to Mexico that effectively ties him to El Trí for the rest of his international career if he actually plays for them in either a youth or senior team match.

“The thought process was simple for me,” the midfielder said. “It’s the team I grew up watching, it’s a way for me to honor my family, my culture. My whole family is Mexican. It’s the team I feel the most love toward.”

Vargas has often recounted how he grew up rooting for Mexico, and that like many immigrant families, watching El Trí was almost a cultural experience. He has never hidden the fact that he had divided loyalties, and he still says he’s grateful for opportunities U.S. Soccer and living in the United States provided.

He also insisted the decision was not about playing time, feeling snubbed or mistreated by U.S. Soccer or anything else beyond doing what his heart told him to do.

“I left everything aside, all the benefits, anything that any national team could offer me and just made the decision with my heart,” he said. “I didn’t ask for anything, they didn’t offer anything. Everything I have to earn. Whenever they call me up, they’ll call me up. I’m not sure when that is or what level it will be at.”

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