After representing Colombia in two FIFA Youth World Cups, Andrés Perea has completed a change of association to represent the United States. U.S. Soccer confirmed on Monday that FIFA has approved the one-time switch for the Orlando City midfielder.
Perea previously expressed his interest in joining the USMNT and he was invited to camp in December, although he was still unable to play in the friendly against El Salvador. But he was given the good news from Gregg Berhalter himself before joining the January training camp with the U-23s.
“It was a very important decision for me. Colombia is my country as well, but it’s an honor for me to represent the United States as I did Colombia in the past.” @USMNT @OrlandoCitySC— Andrés Perea (@andresperea06) January 12, 2021
#Pepe #Soccer #Alegria pic.twitter.com/8m43Gcy1Ci
The 20-year-old was born in Tampa, Florida, but grew up in Colombia after moving there at the age of five. He spent his entire youth career with Atlético Nacional and made his way to the first team in 2017. That year, he began playing with Los Cafeteros and represented Colombia at the U-17 and U-20 FIFA Youth World Cups.
Last year, he joined Orlando City on loan from his boyhood club and in spite of the strange year, he impressed in his first season in Major League Soccer. He started 11 matches and made a total of 23 appearances for the Lions, a main contributor to the club’s best season ever. This put him on the radar of U-23 head coach, Jason Kreis who invited him to camp.
“I was very happy during the camp. I saw the opportunities I had and that this team is growing,” Perea said in an interview with USSoccer.com.
You can expect the youngster to be heavily involved this March as Kreis & the U-23s compete in the Concacaf Olympic Qualifying Championship. The ultimate hope is to qualify for the Olympics this summer (technically known as Tokyo 2020, but hey, nothing makes sense anymore).
This January camp includes the U-23s training alongside just 12 USMNT players ahead of a TBD friendly around the end of the month. This will be Perea’s first chance to represent the Stars & Stripes.