Mayen trades US for El Salvador

Young midfielder switching national-team affiliation to La Selecta

Gerson Mayen Vancouver

Photo Credit: 
Juan Miranda / Chivas USA

CARSON, Calif. — Gerson Mayen has dreams of playing international soccer, and to do that, he’s decided to make a change in his affiliation.

FIFA has approved Mayen's application to change his international eligibility from the US to El Salvador. The Chivas USA midfielder had hoped to represent La Selecta in last month's Gold Cup, but he is still very pleased he’ll be able to represent the nation of his parents’ birth.

“I’ve been trying since before the Gold Cup,” Mayen told MLSsoccer.com. "Two weeks before [the tournament], my paperwork didn’t go through, but now it’s good and I’m happy that I’ll be playing for El Salvador."

The switch comes after Mayen represented the United States during the 2009 U-20 World Cup in Egypt, starting one match against Germany on an ill-fated team which failed to advance from the group stage. Because he had only represented the US at a youth level and not a FIFA "A" International, it freed the 22-year-old up to change his allegiances.

The move is similar to recent ones made by Real Salt Lake's Arturo Alvarez and Portland's Steve Purdy. Both US-born players, like Mayen, they represented the United States at the youth level before also making the jump to El Salvador.

As he looks to help La Selecta in the future, Mayen must also improve his inconsistent club form. His playing time with Chivas USA has been hard to come by this season, having only appeared in four matches. However, as a fourth-year MLS player at just 22 years old, Mayen feels his time in the league can contribute greatly to helping El Salvador during 2014 World Cup qualifying.

“I think that I could bring in a different energy because some of the players that play in El Salvador aren’t used to physical soccer," he said. "I know that I’m small, but having played in MLS, I have good experience.”

The Chivas USA midfielder makes the switch ahead of a rumored friendly between El Salvador and Ivory Coast, which would take place in Los Angeles on Aug. 10. For Mayen, who hopes to make his debut for La Selecta sooner rather than later, it would be a dream.

“It would mean a lot because this is my hometown,” said a beaming Mayen. “I have all my family and friends [in LA] so it’d be a pleasure playing here.” 

Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at adam.m.serrano@gmail.com and on Twitter: @adamserrano