Julian Araujo went to the Land of the Rising Sun during four days in June, bringing his soccer ball and U.S National team uniform with him for one more overseas stop in 2017.
The Lompoc High soccer player continued to compete with the American Under-16 team from June 6 to 10 at Sendai, Japan — a community located northeast of Tokyo. Araujo not only competed against the likes of Guinea, The Netherlands and the host team Japan, but also got a chance to learn about Japanese culture during his four-day stay.
“It was really nice. They (Japan) had nice people, actually,” Araujo said. “All of the teams there play a different style of play. The speed, though, was really high. We also went on a tour and learned to draw our name in their language. I got a chance to learn how to say “Thank you,” “Good Morning,” and “Hello” in their language.”
Araujo said all three teams posed a different set of challenges for him and Team U.S.A.
“Guinea was really physical. Japan tried to play more natural soccer, including passing the ball around. The Netherlands was the same, too — fundamentally sound,” Araujo said.
Araujo has hung up the national uniform, for now. He said at this point, he’s on call if the U16 team needs an additional player for its next tournament run. Whether the incoming junior and UC Santa Barbara verbal commit gets the phone call to suit up and travel the world again, Araujo said he can look at the national jersey he wore with fond memories.
“It was all worth it,” Araujo said. “Not just soccer wise, but as a person. Just to be in a position where I can give to others and be kind through soccer. Everything was all worth it.
“I hope I get a call back. But if I don’t, I’ll continue to work until I get a call.”
Araujo is now preparing to put on the Lompoc football gear as summer practices and fall camp looms at Huyck Stadium, where Araujo plans to return as the Braves’ placekicker. He added that LHS boys soccer started its summer workout programs a week ago.
Finally, the middle forward Araujo tells The Times and Record that a number of Major League Soccer teams have expressed interest in him by seeking to place him on their developmental teams. Araujo cites the Portland Timbers as one of those interested teams, which has expressed interest in placing Araujo on their reserve squad, which is referred to as their “T2” team that plays in the United Soccer League. Araujo said that he’s talked to representatives from the Los Angeles Galaxy, San Jose Earthquakes and the Seattle Sounders about possibly playing in their developmental system in the future.