Monterrey's 18-year-old midfielder Jonathan Gonzalez
confirmed on Tuesday he is leaving the U.S. national team program to play for Mexico, a move he termed "perhaps the most important moment"
of his career so far.
Gonzalez's future with the USA for which he had played in 2017 Concacaf U-20 Championship has been a matter of speculation since
the USA failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and he was not picked for the U.S. friendly against Portugal in November.
It followed a breakout season at Monterrey, which Gonzalez
helped reach the Liga MX final as No 1 seed and win the Copa MX. He was named to the Liga MX Best XI
, quite an accomplishment for a player so young in a league
dominated by veterans.
Gonzalez, whose parents are Mexican, made the decision after Dennis te Kloese
, the director of Mexico's national teams who has worked for years recruiting
Mexican-American players for Mexican clubs and national teams, visited Gonzalez at his home in Santa Rosa, California, over the holidays.
While Gonzalez played for the USA in Concacaf
qualifying, he did not go the U-20 World Cup finals in South Korea. He would not have been tied permanently to the USA until he played for it at the senior level in an official match, which wouldn't
have been until the fall of 2018 at the earliest.
He wasn't picked for the Portugal-USA friendly in November. Gonzalez told
Soccer America's Mike Woitalla
in late December: "I wasn’t
called in, in November. Personally, nobody came and talked to me and let me know about that friendly. I just wasn’t called in."
About a possible switch, Gonzalez told Soccer
America: "At the moment, I really haven’t thought of it much. I focused on my club because of the finals and all of that."
Gonzalez is believed to have made the decision after he
returned to Monterrey for the Torneo Clausura, which began last weekend. He said on Tuesday: "The decision I've made has been profoundly difficult."
In his statement on Tuesday, Gonzalez
“Four years ago, I arrived in Mexico with the dream of playing soccer professionally, something that I have accomplished with a lot of hard work, dedication and above
everything else, with the support of my family. It is not easy to leave the country in which one is born. However, Mexico is also my home as it is the country where my parents were born and,
consequently, where my roots originate.”