Earlier this month when we learned of U.S. Soccer's plans to press FC Dallas and Mexico under-20 goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez to play for them it seemed a bit of a hail mary. A desperate attempt to lure an in-form young player to switch from their rivals camp to their own. Now it's not looking so far-fetched. According to Goal.com, Gonzalez will accept a call-up to the USMNT's January camp.
The 20-year-old goalkeeper had a breakout season for FC Dallas in MLS and helped his club reach the Western Conference finals in MLS Cup playoffs. While his parents are Mexican-born, he himself was born in North Carolina and raised in Texas. He represented the Mexico at the most recent U-20 World Cup earlier this year, starting two of the team's three matches.
It will be quite interesting to see how new Mexico boss Juan Carlos Osorio will react to this news. His predecessor wasn't bothered at all by Klinsmann and the United States Soccer Federation poaching their fringe players as evidenced by the the Ventura Alvarado call-up and cap-tie. Perhaps Osorio will act rash and attempt to win back the youngster's affection with a call-up of their own.
It remains to be seen where Gonzalez would lie on the USMNT goalkeeping depth chart and how he'd fit into their long term plans. Brad Guzan and Tim Howard are both currently in a dogfight for the #1 spot currently, but both are seeing their form dip in the Premier League. Bill Hamid seems to be the logical heir apparent, but that's never a guarantee.
This call-up will not cap-tie Gonzalez to the USMNT as these two friendlies against Canada and Iceland aren't official FIFA events. In fact, he's very unlikely to play because he'd have to file a one-time switch to be eligible to play. If Gonzalez decides to commit to U.S. Soccer for the long term, he'd be competing with Zack Steffen and Ethan Horvath for the starting spot on the U-23 team that will play Colombia in a home-and-away playoff for a spot in the 2016 Olympics.
Only time will tell if this call-up actually leads to Gonzalez becoming a full time USMNT player, but at least it's a start. He's shown the willingness to switch allegiances to the U.S., now it's a matter of performance and circumstance.