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A look at players who chose to play for the USMNT instead of Mexico

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:

Ventura Alvarado

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

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.

Joe Corona

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

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

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.

Sofia Huerta

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.

Jose Torres

“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.

Jorge Villafana

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.

William Yarbrough

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.


  1. The mexican american whit talents are to hack into for the worse men Jorge Vergara he hired, for chivas and can not play for usa,and de dutchman dennis to klose,miguel
    herrera respet and said when have Paul Arriola,that was glad and shoul be whit USAMNT

  2. Now and then they come Ponce to Sacramento,and i thing,he would like to be better
    whit USA,chivas dont want him so much,nither Alejandro Zendejas who play little they want in
    chivas the natives of that country,i am mexican ,leave in mexico,have spain roots,well
    Zendejas is U20usamnt whit tab ramos,and remember USA and really good friends
    Aniway USA will loose the first games,but later get very strong,some are sad not to stay whit USA,because the mexican Leaague has more foreign from argentina,brasil,colombia ecuador,and many more
    So I am mexican,but a leaved some years in chula vista Cal. LONG LIVE THE NEW
    USA ROSTER,whit the help expecting from veteran.all the hep to Dave Sarachan

    • Yes it is going to be a might work in ourfavor in the long run. I was angry about Zendejas being sold to Chivas because of their mexico only rules but hopefully in the long run he will come back. Mexico does not need him as much as USA does in our player pool. Hope you are right about us being stronger in the long run.

  3. Just name dropping some dual nationals who chose Mexico … Miguel Ponce and Isaac Brizuela who both play for Chivas. Also lesser known Cirilo Saucedo. All have a few caps with the Mexican NT.

  4. Not sure many of the guys on this list actually had call-up opportunities from the Mexican National Team. Castillo was pretty far down the depth chart and the other players never played above the youth level. Some of that thinking might be forgetfulness I fully admit.

  5. One German-American player who comes to mind is Thomas Dooley, though I don’t recall enough about his history to know if he is really a dual national who switched. But with over 80 caps and important roles in the 94 and 98 World Cups, he was a major part of the national team.

  6. Interesting summary of players. I honestly thought the list would be at least twice as long. None of the players have been impact players for us (we all hope Jesse Gonzalez becomes that).

    I’d be interested to see a comprehensive list of all duals who chose the US, including the German-Americans, ArJo, etc… For me, Jermaine Jones remains the most impactful dual to have switched to the US. His play at WC2014 and Copa 2016 was stellar.

    • I’d say the biggest duel national to side with the US has been Ernie Stewart. While he didn’t have much of a chance of representing Holland his years of service & impact to the US was epic at a time when we were struggling to find a way to complete.
      Brooks has a chance to be a major win on the duel national front, but he needs to stay healthy.
      Tab, Pablo, Dooley are the others who I’d include our top 5 gets….


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