Andres Perea is switching (international) sides…
The 20-year-old professional soccer player and Orlando City SC midfielder has been granted a one-time switch from Colombia to represent the United States.
Perea, a Tampa, Florida native, moved to Colombia at an early age, rising through the club ranks at Atletico Nacional. He went on to represent Colombia at the FIFA U17 World Cup in 2017 and U20 World Cup two years later before joining Orlando City on loan last season.
Perea, who’s at the January camp with the U-23 U.S. men’s team, received the news on his switch from senior side coach Gregg Berhalter. Because Perea played for Colombia in official competition, Perea wasn’t able to take part in the USMNT‘s 6-0 win against El Salvador last December.
“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,” Perea said.
The players of the U23 side — which will represent the U.S. at the Tokyo Olympics this summer — are training alongside 12 members of the senior group in Bradenton, Florida, with reports of a friendly match against Serbia in the works.
“Andres we find to be a really, really interesting holding midfield player for us,” U.S. U23 coach Jason Kreis said during a conference call. “The amount of ground that he’s capable to cover defensively, I think it’s a little bit different level than some of the other guys that we have in our pool. His processing of the ball, he’s still learning a little bit about that.”
Kreis anticipates men’s Olympic soccer qualifying for North and Central America and the Caribbean will take place during late March in Guadalajara, Mexico, where the CONCACAF tournament last spring was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Kreis said he anticipates it will be difficult to access top Europe-based Americans for qualifying. FIFA does not require that clubs release players to under-23 teams. FIFA extended the age limit by a year, keeping the group for qualifying limited to players born on or after Jan. 1, 1997.
Each team reaching the games in Japan can supplement its roster with three players over the age limit. Top Americans are not expected at qualifying, with clubs expected not to make available Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Joshua Sargent and Giovanni Reyna. All are regulars in league play this season.