Lompoc’s Julian Araujo assists in U.S. national team debut

This article was originally published on Santa Maria Times.

Lompoc native Julian Araujo made his international debut with the United States men’s team Dec. 9 in Florida.

Araujo was in the starting lineup on the right side in a friendly match against El Salvador in Ft. Lauderdale.

The former Brave made a quick impact flying up and down his side of the pitch, assisting on the U.S.’s fourth goal to Chris Mueller, who also made his senior team debut Wednesday.

The U.S. won 6-0 after leading 5-0 at halftime.

Mueller assisted on a goal and scored on another for the U.S. before he headed in Araujo’s slicing kick into the penalty area.

Araujo played spent two years at Lompoc High School, playing football and soccer, before transferring to an elite soccer academy in Arizona. He then signed with the L.A. Galaxy of the MLS.

Araujo, a right back, can play up on the pitch, possessing the ability to play as a defender and an attacking player.

The 19-year-old has spent his entire youth national career with the U.S.,  though he’s been linked to a possible move to the Mexican national team, a hot topic of discussion this week in Florida.

If someone thought it was a good idea to dedicate a $3.5-million pool in your honor, you must be doing something right.

Ayo Akinola, another forward, also made his debut for the U.S. Wednesday.

The United States built up a healthy 5-0 lead in the first half.

The trio raised the total to 32 debuts since Gregg Berhalter became coach in January 2019 and 55 since the October 2017 loss at Trinidad and Tobago that prevented the Americans from playing in the 2018 World Cup.

The U.S. lineup had Bill Hamid in goal, Araujo at right back, Aaron Long and Mark McKenzie in central defense and Sam Vines at left back.

Brenden Aaronson, Sebastian Lletget and Jackson Yueill were in midfield. Paul Arriola was on the right wing in his first start for club or country since tearing his right ACL in D.C. United’s preseason match on Feb. 15. Muller was on the left wing, and Akinola was up front.

The U.S. lineup averaged 24 years and nine international appearances.

Before a crowd of about 2,500 in the Americans’ first match before fans since the pandemic began, Bill Hamid got the shutout in his first international start since a 2-1 loss at Ireland in June 2018.

Lletget is the only player to appear in all four matches for the U.S. in the pandemic-shortened 2020 schedule.

Cabigon, the reigning Santa Maria Times All-Area MVP, said on twitter that she’ll be playing for Eastern Arizona College.

Araujo attended the Barca Academy in Arizona for a year before signing with the LA Galaxy last year. He made his professional debut in April of 2019 as a 17-year-old.

After this MLS season wrapped up, Araujo was voted the Galaxy’s ‘Humanitarian of the Year’ for his work supporting farmworkers in Lompoc and working with the United Farmworkers Foundation this season. He was also chosen as the club’s ‘Defender of the Year.’

Araujo started all 17 games he played for the Galaxy this year and scored his first professional goal. He also had three assists as he piled up 1,298 minutes on the pitch. Araujo is a quick and aggressive defender that was also used as a pushing winger for the Galaxy this year. He was in the top five in all of MLS with eight total cards, six yellow and two red.

A busy 2021 is ahead that includes a pair of March friendlies, the CONCACAF Nations League final four in June, the CONCACAF Gold Cup in July, the start of World Cup qualifying in September and possibly the first Olympics for the U.S. under-23 team since 2008. This match was used to expand the player pool.

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