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USMNT has brighter future than Mexico, says Pumas’ Saucedo

Pumas and United States Under-23 international winger Sebastian Saucedo says the USMNT has a brighter future than Mexico due to the number of players at big European clubs, and added that he believes players based in Liga MX have been undervalued by U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter and his staff.

The 23-year-old dual Mexico-United States national said he talks regularly with Pumas teammates and Mexico internationals such as Johan Vasquez about the promising generation of young players in the United States setup. He said that Mexico is held back by Liga MX clubs asking for inflated prices for young players, and thinks the United States has the advantage moving forward.

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“There are a lot of really good players in Mexico, but the reality is what we talked about,” Saucedo said in an interview with ESPN’s Ahora o Nunca. “I think [Chivas striker Jose Juan] Macias talked about [Mexican clubs] sell[ing] very high. It’s a difficult issue in Mexico because they deserve to go to Europe. [Macias] is right because the thing is that in MLS they sell them cheaper to give them projection in Europe, that’s where the USMNT wins. I see a better future for the USMNT for the players that are playing in Juventus, Chelsea, Leipzig …”

Asked whether MLS will narrow the gap in quality with Liga MX, Saucedo said he sees it “closing in the future,” but that Mexico’s first division continues to get stronger.

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The former Real Salt Lake player recently returned to training after injury and is focused on making an impact for title-chasing Pumas. However, he is pessimistic about getting future opportunities to play for the United States’ senior team.

“The U.S. national team hasn’t called me up and I’m focused on the Under-23s,” said Saucedo. “Hopefully [the] Tokyo [Olympics] happen, but I’m more focused on my club than the national team because I don’t think the opportunities will come here in Mexico.”

“There are players in Europe that are playing and they are called just because they play in Europe,” he continued. “They under-appreciate the Mexican league. The Mexican league has spectacular players that are called up to their national teams. And it seems a little unjust.”

Saucedo played for the U.S. U20s at the 2017 World Cup alongside the likes of RB Leipzig‘s Tyler Adams and Werder Bremen‘s Josh Sargent and was in the frame to be involved for the U23s at the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying event in Guadalajara last March, until it was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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But a full national team call is yet to come for Saucedo, who became a regular starter for Pumas in his first season in Mexico.

“It’s a little bit frustrating,” he said. “There are players that deserve to be in the national team and there are others that don’t. That’s football.”

The California-born Saucedo said the last contact he’s had with the full U.S. national team was after he signed for Pumas early in 2020.

“The last time someone called was Gregg Berhalter in January when I arrived at Pumas, but I think that maybe he thought I was coming here for the Mexican national team and an opportunity [with El Tri],” said Saucedo. “Pumas is a huge team that has Mexican national team players and he maybe thought that my decision would be [to go with] Mexico. I never had the intention to come for the Mexican national team.”

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