The U.S. Men’s National Team and Mexico have long been rivals on the field, and that rivalry has often stretched into recruitment. For many years, the U.S. and Mexico have duked it out when it comes to recruiting dual nationals, and it appears one of the more promising in recent memory is nearing a decision.
Jonathan Gonzalez is reportedly still leaning towards the U.S., but Mexico remains very much involved in recruiting the 18-year-old Monterrey midfielder. Gonzalez could make his USMNT debut as soon as the November friendly against Portugal but, without official matches to cap-tie him until the 2019 Gold Cup, Gonzalez will remain a story for the foreseeable future.
If Gonzalez does spurn Mexico for the U.S., he’ll be far from the first Mexican-American to opt to play for the USMNT instead of El Tri. Here’s a look at several players that balanced interest from the U.S. and Mexico and opted to go with the former over the latter:
The central defender expressed his interest in both the U.S. and Mexico shortly following his breakthrough with Club America, drawing the ire of fellow Mexican-American Herculez Gomez. Soon after, Alvarado committed to the U.S., joining John Brooks as starting centerback at the 2015 Gold Cup. The experiment fell flat, and the Santos Laguna man has largely been out of the picture with 13 caps to his name, but at
Edgar Castillo was one of the biggest switches of the bunch given his history with El Tri. The fullback was capped eight times for Mexico’s U-23s and then three times for the El Tri senior team before switching allegiances to the U.S. in 2009. Castillo has racked up 18 appearances for the U.S. since, featuring at the 2013 Gold Cup and 2016 Copa American Centenario.
After representing Mexico once at the youth level, Joe Corona joined the U.S. U-23s in 2012 before making his USMNT shortly after. A member of three Gold Cup squads, including two championship teams, Corona has amassed 20 caps and three senior goals.
Luis Gil became one of the hottest North American prospects in 2010 when he joined Real Salt Lake, drawing attention from both the U.S. and Mexico. After progressively rising through the U.S. youth ranks, Gil made a pair of senior appearances for the USMNT in 2014. Recently, Gil has bounced between loans to Orlando City and the Colorado Rapids after joining Queretaro in 2016.
Jesse Gonzalez rapidly rose through the FC Dallas ranks to become one of the best young goalkeepers in MLS and, soon, the U.S. came knocking for the Mexican youth international. Gonzalez was a member of the Mexico U-20 and U-23 teams throughout 2015-16, but accepted a USMNT call-up to the Gold Cup this summer after filing a one-time switch to join the program.
Dual nationals certainly aren’t only limited to the men’s game. Huerta featured in both the U.S. and Mexico youth systems before officially debuting for the latter’s senior team in 2012. She made four appearances and scored two goals for Las Tri before making the switch to the U.S. in September.
“Gringo” Torres was tracked by both the U.S. and Mexico after coming up with Pachuca before officially joining Bob Bradley’s USMNT in 2008. He went on to be a part of the 2010 World Cup squad and started a group stage match against Slovenia. Following the World Cup, and Bradley’s departure, Torres joined Klinsmann’s team for a Gold Cup, but hasn’t added to his 26 appearances since 2013.
The Santos Laguna left back started all throughout the end of the qualifying campaign, but it took Villafana quite awhile to break through with the U.S. After becoming a breakout star with the Portland Timbers, Villafana, a former U.S. youth international, was open to a Mexico call-up. Eventually, his chance with the USMNT came and Villafana has since earned 14 caps.
The Club Leon goalkeeper played for Mexico’s U-20s in 2007, but remained open to a senior call-up from either national team. It came from the U.S. in 2015 as he joined the program under Jurgen Klinsmann for a friendly debut against Switzerland. He’s made two senior appearances since.