Alejandro Zendejas said the opportunity to reunite with former teammates played a role in his decision to commit his international future to the United States over Mexico.
Zendejas previously appeared for the U.S. national team against Serbia in a friendly in January, but remained eligible to ask FIFA for a one-time switch of affiliation to Mexico. He committed to the USMNT over Mexico last week.
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Speaking in Spanish at the USMNT's camp in Orlando ahead of CONCACAF Nations League matches against Grenada and El Salvador, Zendejas said: "The last time I came in January I felt very comfortable. I met old teammates, and I felt the project here is for the long term.
"My goal is to play the World Cup and that is why I made the decision to choose the United States. I was also happy to find again players that I have known since I was a kid."
Zendejas initially played for the U.S. at the youth level, including at the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup, where he was a teammate of Christian Pulisic and Tyler Adams. Pulisic is also in camp ahead of the two matches, although Adams was held out due to a hamstring injury he picked up with his club Leeds United.
"I was 15 years old when I started training for the United States," Zendejas said. "I went to the World Cup in Chile with the youth team, so I think that's why I decided to represent the United States."
It's a decision that had weighed on the Club America player -- who developed at the FC Dallas academy -- for several months.
"I spoke to my family about it almost every day or every week because I was getting calls from everywhere," he said.
Zendejas, 25, also played for El Tri at the youth level, and later the full Mexico national team in a pair of friendlies against Ecuador in 2021 and Guatemala in 2022. But Zendejas never filed the required one-time switch with FIFA to become eligible to play for Mexico, which was necessary because he had played for the U.S. in official competition.
Mexico was ordered to forfeit five matches (three at the youth level) and fined 10,000 Swiss francs ($10,900) by FIFA for using Zendejas while he was affiliated with the United States.
Zendejas also pushed back on a report which stated he asked for a World Cup spot in order to switch to Mexico.
"I don't think anyone could be in the position for someone to secure something for you," he said.
"We have to work on that daily and prove to people that we deserve the opportunity. It was a bunch of chaos that happened over there -- people saying stuff that wasn't true. But at the end of the day I just tried not to focus on that. I tried to focus on like my club team, playing well and decided to represent the USA."
Zendejas is one of seven forwards on the roster named by interim coach Anthony Hudson and the left-footed attacker is expected to see some playing time.