FC Dallas keeper Jesse Gonzalez to represent Mexico rather than U.S.
FC Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez has decided to represent Mexico rather than the United States if given the opportunity to play senior international football.
Gonzalez, a Mexican-American, had verbally accepted an invitation to the U.S. camp in 2016 before changing his mind and joining Mexico's Olympic-bound under-23 team instead.
The 21-year-old has represented both Mexico's U20s and U23s but would be eligible to play for either country until being called into a senior team.
Gonzalez, born in North Carolina to Mexican parents, said he was "thankful for everything in America" and "was not losing respect" for the country but added: "Sometimes my family reminds me they're all Mexican, and I always grew up with that in my heart.
"America has given us a lot, but being a Mexican is always something special for us. The thing is you have to respect both countries. I am a Mexican-American. That's who I am."
Dallas coach Oscar Pareja acknowledged that the fierce football rivalry between the two nations meant Gonzalez had faced "a difficult decision."
But he said: "He had his whole family, his roots, all his past, belong to a country. It means a lot, but at the same time he has been growing in America.
"We spoke a few times about it and when it came to a decision my suggestion to him was to let the heart guide -- and that's not going to be a mistake."
In April, Gonzalez had said he would prefer to play for Mexico rather than the United States should he get called up.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.