LA Galaxy defender Julian Araujo talks World Cup, humble beginnings – NBC New York

Julián Araujo knew from a young age that he wanted to grow up to be a professional footballer. Whatever was on his mind, now that dream has turned into a reality.

The 21-year-old LA Galaxy defender has spent a good portion of his time off the field raising awareness for hardworking farm workers in his hometown of Lombok, California.

Araujo, who plays as a right-back for LA Galaxy, was born in the United States, but was looking forward to the opportunity to play for Mexico in the Qatar 2022 World Cup. He did not make the final list, but his dream will continue before the 2026 tournament.

Let’s take a look at how one of the most watched young players in Major League Soccer made his name in the sport:

peasant family

Araujo says that being the son of a farm worker gives him an overwhelming sense of pride and responsibility to do something for members of the community. His father, Jorge, worked in the Lombok fields, and it was his first job when he came to the United States.

His mother, aunts, and uncles worked in the California fields as well.

“I just watched my dad get up very early,” Araujo told his new favorite Fotopolista podcast. “I’ll never see my dad because I’ve always been in practice. And when I got home, he was already asleep. And yes, it was just something he got up for – to feed us and feed our family and to make sure we’re all right.”

The Lombok Fields proved to be a large part of Julian’s identity.

“I’ve grown around it all my life,” he said. “That’s why I want to use my voice and my platform to help.”

Barcelona comes and calls

Araujo was born in Lombok – a city of about 44,000 people, two hours north of Los Angeles – on August 13, 2001, and is of Mexican descent.

He attended Lompoc High School before leaving home to join the Barça Residency Academy training program in Casa Grande, Arizona, before he was 16 years old.

Araujo has been awarded a full scholarship for the FC Barcelona Affiliate Program and has used this opportunity to commit to playing college football at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) starting in Fall 2018.

Michael’s tribute

Araujo’s football career came to a crossroads in an instant when he was moments away from boarding a plane bound for La Masia, Barcelona’s soccer academy in Spain.

He received a text message that his best friend Michael Taylor had died unexpectedly.

Arago, now 16 but still a young teenager, faced the toughest decision of his life: get on a plane or go home to be with Michael’s family.

He decided to get on the plane and continue his career in honor of his best friend.

After a few months playing in the soccer academy in Spain, Araujo gained interest from the Los Angeles Galaxy II, the second division team of the NFL.

The astonishing trajectory continued when 17-year-old Araujo became the youngest player to represent the United States at the 2018 CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Bradenton, Florida.

Climb the Los Angeles Galaxy Ladder

Araujo is now in his fourth season with Los Angeles after being a regular fixture since 2020. He has scored seven assists for the second season in a row, scoring 24 starts in 26 games. He has scored one goal and made 11 assists in 70 matches (62 starts) since becoming a regular starter.

Dual citizenship represented the United States at the youth level. He even made his international debut in December 2020 against El Salvador, then changed the federation via the long-running CONCACAF competition. He made the decision to represent Mexico at the national level.

Araujo has made two appearances for the Mexican national team, making his debut in a December 2021 international friendly against Chile before making his World Cup qualifier debut on the bench a few months ago against Panama.

Araujo gives back to the community

The agricultural industry took a hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, so Araujo decided to do something more to help farm workers in his hometown of Lombok.

In February 2021, he united his LA Galaxy teammates and took them to Lompoc where they met with members of the United Farm Workers Foundation and distributed more than $26,000 in aid. They also donated soccer balls and backpacks filled with things like toothpaste, face masks and other needed families.

It was his mother Loeb’s moment of great joy.

“We’ve always instilled in him that whenever he feels the urge to give, he doesn’t think about it too much,” she said. “Just to do it. Why? Because it’s such a great feeling. When you feel like helping someone, feeling good knowing you’ve made such a difference, even if it’s only in one person, is so much fun. Better than a goal I don’t know” .

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