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Julian Araujo says he ‘needed that LAFC game’ to shake off early-season blues

LA Galaxy defender working to raise his game.

MLS: Los Angeles FC at LA Galaxy Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Julian Araujo didn’t start the 2021 season in the way he wanted. But he’s determined to get to his best.

The LA Galaxy defender was busy to start the year, participating in the United States’ failed Olympic qualifying campaign and late to Greg Vanney’s first preseason camp with the Galaxy as a result.

“Coming back from the Olympic [qualifying] was very difficult for me,” Araujo told reporters on Thursday during the team’s media availability. “Going to the preseason and Arizona, I felt a little rusty, not as confident as I wanted to feel going in or coming back with a squad. I know the first couple games here of the season I wasn’t at my best. I felt like I needed that LAFC game.”

Araujo was suspended for the season opener at Inter Miami after picking up a red card to end the 2020 season, but he’s been in the lineup since then. As he noted, his performances against the New York Red Bulls and Seattle Sounders seemed below his typical standards, but Araujo raised his energy and effectiveness for the El Trafico clash against LAFC at the weekend.

That was no coincidence, the homegrown player said.

“I think just playing LAFC, I knew it was gonna be a battle,” Araujo explained. “I knew I was gonna need to leave everything out there, as well as all my teammates and yeah I think just getting that win and just having a very good performance was just something that I needed to build my confidence up. I knew I was confident going into this game. Just because it’s LAFC, man I always want to beat them, I never want to lose to this team, and I never want to lose to any team but LAFC, it’s just a different mentality for me. But I want to keep this mentality moving forward.”

Araujo is still just 19, something that is forgotten at times considering how many games he’s played already in MLS.

While there’s been reports of interest from major European clubs, Araujo is still honing his craft and repeatedly credited Vanney and the new coaching staff for teaching him.

“Moving forward, I feel very confident. I feel like these coaches have helped me a lot to learn my position and just give me a lot of confidence, but I feel very good. I know what my role is and they just make my role very clear and I’m very confident, I want to continue to perform, and keep my performances at a high standard, and I just want to keep it going.”

Araujo has split his time with the Galaxy between right back and right winger. When asked if he had a positional preference, he said he did, but he’s learning from playing in both spots.

“Obviously I’m young. I want to be on the field at all times,” he said. “Whatever position I’m playing, I want to help the team and give whatever I can. I definitely do prefer right back. But playing right wing, when I’m playing right back it just kind of helps me learn the position and where I’m going to want my right wing to be. It just helps me a lot to be honest, I went over the game when I was playing right wing [against Seattle] and just seeing when, if I was Oniel [Fisher] in that game where he would want me. It helps me kind of just communicate with the right wing.”

“Like I said I want to be on the field at all costs, or at whatever position I’m playing but I’m more comfortable at right back,” he added.

Putting in the work, confidence rising, a strong performance in the rivalry game, it sounds like Araujo is ready to really make his mark on the season.

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