The United States thought they had landed Jesse Gonzalez, the talented 20-year-old goalkeeper who was born in he U.S. to Mexican parents and has thus far only represented Mexico. It turns out, he has not, and has decided to stick with the Americans' rivals.
Gonzalez's decision to play for Mexico was clear when he wasn't on the Americans' January camp roster, released Wednesday. The goalkeeper changed his mind and informed U.S. Soccer of his decision to stay with Mexico on Tuesday, according to Goal.
Gonzalez was Mexico's goalkeeper at last year's U-20 World Cup and then had a marvelous second half of the season for FC Dallas. It was an impressive stretch of play that made him arguably the most promising goalkeeper in North America and, unsurprisingly, it drew the attention of U.S. Soccer, who tried to recruit the backstop. In December, he agreed, accepting a call-up to the Americans' January camp, giving the U.S. a fairly big win. But that win didn't last long and now he will join up with Mexico's U-23 team instead as they prepare for the summer's Olympics.
Had Gonzalez joined up with the U.S., he would have only been able to train with the team. Because he played in an official youth competition, he would have to file a one-time switch to play in a match for the Americans. It's unlikely he wanted to do that immediately and would have probably just trained with the team while he continued to evaluate his options. Even if he wanted to, odds are FIFA wouldn't have approved his switch in time for the upcoming friendlies.
The U.S. still has a chance with Gonzalez. He's not cap-tied to Mexico until he plays in an official match for their senior team. But this appeared to be a major change of heart from Gonzalez and a great chance to sneak in and snag him. Now, they're facing an uphill battle and the odds are very much in Mexico's favor. Luckily, the U.S. has a slew of very good, promising young goalkeepers so it's hardly a position of need, but landing Gonzalez would be a great addition.