U.S. Soccer scout: Gonzalez chose Mexico over USMNT despite repeated attempts

California-born soccer talent Jonathan Gonzalez, a player who has been tearing it up in Mexico for Monterrey, won't be representing the United States men's national team despite several attempts by the American federation to keep him, including several visits to his home to sway him. 

According to Univision Deportes, the player has decided to switch from U.S. to Mexico but will have to have that decision approved. CBS Sports soccer analyst Thomas Rongen, who served as chief scout of the USMNT under Bruce Arena, said the U.S. did everything to try and keep him, with Rongen personally visiting Gonzalez's home three times.

"I've been to his house three times in the last year as the chief scout for the U.S. men's national team," Rongen, a former coach in MLS, said. "He's as American as they come. He represented our under-17 team at the World Cup, our under-20 team at the World Cup as well. Not going to the World Cup ourselves, that has been tough. I knew going forward, we might lose some battles.

"It's a big loss, obviously. He would have liked to play for the U.S., but you know what, his dad is so Mexican, that he wanted him to represent Mexico and I knew it was a losing battle, probably."

Gonzalez still has to send a letter to FIFA requesting the one-time change to represent Mexico, which is where his family is from. Gonzalez, 18, had represented the United States at the youth level since U17 while also playing for the U20 team. He has not been capped by the senior national team, however. By FIFA rules, once that happens there can be no transfer. Since he has yet to be capped by the U.S., FIFA rules allow the player apply for the change before his 21st birthday, which is what Gonzalez is doing.

"This will continue to go on because there are so many Mexicans-Americans in the United States that can [play for both] because they have dual citizenship in Mexico as well," Rongen said. "The problem is that 10 years ago, you could make a double change. If you make one change from the U.S., because he represented them on the World Cup level, to Mexico, he cannot make that move back."

He's appeared in 22 matches for Monterrey of Liga MX since 2017 and is looked at as a defensive midfielder with big-time potential, who is calm and poised on the ball and times his tackles well.

But his decision to go back to the Mexican federation isn't that shocking. Though unlikely, he could be in the mix for a spot at the 2018 World Cup for Mexico, which the U.S. failed to qualify for. Switching gives him a shot, and you'd have to imagine Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio mentioned that in his pitch. 

Secondly, having played in Mexico and knowing the style and a lot of the players in the Mexican national team, there is probably a comfort level there. Remember, the U.S. men's national team doesn't even have a head coach right now, just an acting head coach in Dave Sarachan after the departure of Bruce Arena late last year.

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CBS Sports Writer

Roger Gonzalez is an award-winning writer based in Virginia that has covered pro soccer from Europe's top clubs to Argentina's first division. Roger started out his pro soccer writing career with Goal.com... Full Bio

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