Colombia youth international Perea cleared to play for U.S.

FILE PHOTO: Nov 21, 2020; Orlando, Florida, USA; Orlando City SC midfielder Andres Perea (21) celebrates after a goal scored during penalty kicks on New York City FC goalkeeper Sean Johnson (1) at Exploria Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - Orlando City midfielder Andres Perea has been given approval by FIFA to switch allegiance from Colombia to the United States, the U.S. Soccer Federation said on Tuesday.

Perea was born in Florida and moved to Colombia at an early age. He rose through the youth ranks at Atletico Nacional and represented Colombia at the Under-17 World Cup in 2017 and Under-20 World Cup two years later before joining Orlando City on loan last season.

The 20-year-old was invited to a U.S. national team camp last month though he was ineligible to play. He received news of his switch from new coach Gregg Berhalter.

"It was a very important decision for me," Perea said. "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 is currently training with the U-23 U.S. men's team, which will attempt to qualify for this year's Tokyo Olympics during the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Championship scheduled for March in Mexico.

Jason Kreis, coach of the team, was delighted to have Perea available.

"Andres we find to be a really, really interesting holding midfield player for us," he 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."

(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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