FOX Soccer Exclusive
Corona ready to play for US
Joe Corona is one of the bright young stars making his way in the Mexican Primera Division, and up until recently, it was believed the California native would pass on a chance to play for the United States for an opportunity to play for Mexico.
Don’t bet on that one just yet.
Sources have told FOX Soccer that Corona has, in fact, turned his attentions to playing for the US men’s national team and is ready to commit to his home country as soon as he receives a national team call-up.
Tijuana attacker Joe Corona could be set to play for the United States.
The development comes after reports in recent months that had Corona committed his future to Mexico. When he received a call-up for a Mexican Under-22 national team camp, it was believed the call would be the first step toward Corona’s integration into the Mexico set-up, but since that August camp, Corona has gone largely ignored by the Mexican federation.
Born in Los Angeles and raised in the San Diego area, Corona emerged as a top prospect after helping lead Mexican club Tijuana to promotion from the Mexican second division. An attacking midfielder who can also play on the wing, the dynamic 21-year-old would certainly be a factor in the national team and Olympic pools if he chose to play for the United States.
Boasting speed and a nose for goal, Corona could provide the same sort of boost that fellow youngsters Brek Shea and Timmy Chandler have recently brought to the national team mix.
US national team scouts have seen Corona play for Club Tijuana, and Corona was set to be called up by former US head coach Bob Bradley for the USA-Mexico friendly in August before Bradley was fired.
Corona is eligible to play for Mexico due to his Mexican father, and he is also eligible to pay for El Salvador through his mother. Publicly, he has kept his options open, even stating in a recent ESPN article that he would have accepted the US national team call-up to face Mexico if it had come.
The reality is that his chances of breaking into the Mexican national team set-up are slimmer than his chances of making a mark with the United States. Mexico boasts an embarrassment of attacking riches at Corona’s positions, whereas the United States can certainly use a player with his qualities, both on the senior and Olympic level.
Right now, sources say he is leaning strongly toward playing for the United States, and is simply awaiting a call-up to the US national team. He could be called in for the upcoming November friendlies, which are set to be in Europe. If he isn’t called in then, Corona could be called into a planned U.S. Under-23 national team camp, expected to be put together before the end of the year.
The United States has held its own in the battle with Mexico for players who are eligible for both countries, with Jose Torres the most well-publicized victory for the US team. Edgar Castillo is also well known for having switched to the United States after playing friendlies for Mexico.
Mexico did convince one American-born player to play for the senior team in 22-year-old fullback and Sacramento native Miguel Ponce, who was part of Mexico’s Copa America team and is a candidate to make Mexico’s Olympic team.
Whether Corona joins Torres and Castillo in playing for the United States, or Ponce in playing for Mexico, remains to be seen, but right now sources close to Corona say he is ready to commit to the country of his birth, which could prove a significant victory for the United States in the race to be the top team in CONCACAF.
Ives Galarcep is a senior writer for FOXSoccer.com covering Major League Soccer and the US National Team.