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Report: U.S. Soccer never visited Jonathan Gonzalez at home

Just when you thought the U.S. Soccer-Jonathan Gonzalez saga could not get any worse, a big bomb drops that paints an ugly picture for the American federation.

ESPN analyst Herculez Gomez said on Monday via the Max & Herc podcast that Thomas Rongen, U.S. Soccer’s lone full-time scout, did not go and visit Gonzalez’s home prior to the teenager’s decision to switch allegiances from the U.S. to Mexico. Rongen had claimed in a CBS article earlier this month that he had visited the midfielder’s “house three times” in 2017, but Gomez said both the player and his dad refuted that.

“Jonathan’s father categorically denies this,” said Gomez. “I said, ‘Sir, are you sure?’ He said, ‘I think I would be sure if somebody came to my house and I did not know him.’ I said, ‘Okay, can you ask Jonathan?’ He asked Jonathan (and the response was), ‘Never.’

Gomez, who was approached by Gonzalez’s dad to talk on the matter of his 18-year-old son choosing to play for Mexico over the U.S., then reached out to Rongen for clarity. Rongen admitted his previous claim was untrue.

“Rongen said, ‘Jonathan’s father is correct. I never went to go see him at his house specifically,'” said Gomez. “He then said he has been to Monterrey three times. He didn’t specify if he tried reaching out to Jonathan himself, but he said he spoke to officials down there. We spoke both via phone and text. At this point, I didn’t know if he was referring to Monterrey or (the Mexican federation) but his claim about seeing Jonathan at his house on three specific times is false.”

Gomez also shared an anecdote regarding Gonzalez’s younger days. The analyst said that former U.S. Under-17 coach Richie Williams reached out to Gonzalez and his family when the player was 14, asking if Gonzalez wanted to join the U.S.’s residency program. At the time, Gonzalez had multiple offers from Liga MX clubs to play in an academy tournament and was assessing which team to represent.

“They asked (Williams) if it was okay if they could think it over because he had this potential offers as well,” said Gomez. “Richie Williams put an all-or-nothing, take-it-or-leave-it, you-have-10-minutes-to-decide-or-I’m-going-to-the-next-player proposal.”

You can hear the podcast’s entire segment about Gonzalez at the 43:35 mark as well as listen to the whole episode here.


  1. What interests me is whether it is standard practice to recruit dual nationals and go to their home like a college coach dangling a scholarship. If it is not a standard practice, Gonzalez’s point is largely meaningless. Yes, if true, it paints Rongen as a revisionist liar. However, it just sounds more and more like Gonzalez expected the federation to bend over backwards and kiss his ass…or else. Loyalty? Pssshaw!

  2. Mary Stock “MNT’s Bundesliga Boys” — When I heard what conversation Tab Ramos (head of under-20s, etc.) had with Jonathan G, It was all over for me. When Gonzalez asks for a guarantee that he will start with the USMNT, and Tab Ramos says he has no control over the USMNT. Then Gonzalez takes Mexico. The reason is clear. We should wish Gonzalez well, and go on with our lives. Stop feeling guilty for losing him or mad at officials inside the U.S. soccer establishment. (Except that this scout is probably not doing much on the job for the USMNT. He should be replaced. USSoccer can spend its money better on a much better scout.

  3. Mary Stock “MNT’s Bundesliga Boys” — When I heard what conversation Tab Ramos (head of under-20s, etc.) had with Jonathan G, It was all over for me. When Gonzalez asks for a guarantee that he will start with the USMNT, and Tab Ramos says he has no control over the USMNT. Then Gonzalez takes Mexico. The reason is clear. We should wish Gonzalez well, and go on with our lives. Stop feeling guilty for losing him or mad at officials inside the U.S. soccer establishment. (Except that this scout is probably not doing much on the job for the USMNT. He should be replaced. USSoccer can spend its money better on a much better scout..)

  4. What?!?! What does this have to do with MLS?

    And if you want to talk about money, USA caps are certainly worth more to the value of your brand than Mexico

  5. Money was the main reason. Caps for mexico is more money than a rookie year in MLS.

    USSF does not money where is needed.

  6. I feel perfectly comfortable agreeing with all of the above.

    I agree that we shouldn’t have to “recruit” anyone to play for our country. It should be the pinnacle of their career dream to wear the stars and stripes. They shouldn’t be coddled and have their a**es kissed by coaches, they should want it and work for it with everything they have.

    My approach toward elite dual-nationals would be to engage them early with a honest conversation about my beliefs above, while showing interest in their talent and careers. Remain in touch, be available to them, be professional, but let them make their own choice.

    It’s also pathetic to pretend you tried to recruit someone, then get caught in your lie later. Honestly I’m still a little hung up on the fact that the USSF only has one full-time scout. ONE! It makes me wonder for the first time if we really should burn the whole thing down and start over completely.

  7. I think the biggest thing to come of this hasn’t happened yet. In the future other dual nationals will look and say the US tried to throw Gonzalez under the bus and lied about going to visit him when they really didn’t. So with some young adults probably seeking some advice from their parents on which country to choose and I’m sure they are hard decisions, could say look how they treated Gonzalez so why would you want to play for them.

  8. How does Rongen still have a job in US soccer ? This is the problem rehashing coaches from the same tree and giving them a different spot. USSF is inept and arrogant.
    That said, do you think US soccer had to go to the houses of Donovan,Wynalda, Ramos, Howard or even Dooley? Either your American or your not. Your either loyal to your country or your a traitor. This kid is a traitor. ‘Merica!!!!

  9. ugh…The leadership of the USMNT is a complete disaster. You’ve got Rongren apparently lying about making visits to Gonzalez. You’ve got Bruce Arena blaming the T&T catastrophe on un-named “bad eggs,” supported by USMNT icon Tim Howard (managing to smear the entire rest of the team). The entire lot of them should be excommunicated and shunned.

    • Yes exactly. The BA comments on having to get rid of bad eggs points to the long rumored rift in the locker room between born here guys(Bradley, Howard, etc) and dual nationals(FJ, JAB, JJ, etc). I wouldn’t be surprised if this rift spilled over even in the coaching change decision. Its so he said she said its silly. And Howard now questioning others commitment in multiple quotes over the past couple years just give this rumored rift more credence IMO. Howard really can’t talk after giving up that 40 yarder in TT too.

      Donovan thought he could take a sabbatical during the previous Hex come back towards the end of the Hex out of shape and off form and still get called into the WC squad. MB, TH, and JA thought they could jog around and kick about and qualify for the WC and never had to worry about losing their spot because their manager made sure they knew their spot was assured. This is the deeper thing that stands out is the entitlement of some of these players and the anxiety they have when other new guys come in and they actually have to fight for a spot. There’s this mentality that its THEIR spot instead of its A SPOT and they have to win it.

      • Timmy- that shot that rolled by you against Costa Rica and that 40 yarder that you glanced at as it flied by you in T&T- that was tough and surely an average keeper would not have stopped them… but who cares when you have such committment! Kudos to you and your trusted veteran guys for loving the flag.

  10. The USSF shi-storm continues. I sooo want to be done with this and move on but with the election and sure to be more of the same from the USSF/MLS/SUM leadership I continue to expect worse as long as the soccer people are being run by the business people.

    As for Rongen, the fact that he’s head scout for USSF says enough about USSF hiring and personnel decisions for managers, scouting, youth coaches etc. If you’re part of the club you can f up over and over and still have a job as long as you’re a company man/woman and can even say stupid ish like Messi has low soccer IQ and also apparently lying about visiting players homes and saying a players father is “sooo Mexican”.

    Kathy Carter will win next month and all we’re doing here is spinning our wheels while talking among ourselves doomed to repeat the past years/decades failure ad nausem until we figure out that our love and pride for our NTs are being used by a cartel to profit and promote their leagues business interests.

  11. Who cares, really??!! There were either lies told on both sides, or a misinterpretation of what happened but at the end of the day Jona has decided to represent Mexico, so all this talk of who did what doesn’t matter anymore smh

    • It matters when we look to hold the responsible people accountable. You can’t just miserably fail to do what you were hired for and continue working there. Bruce Arena left his post because he didn’t do what he was brought in to do. Rongen should also be jettisoned, shot out of a cannon back to Holland. Maybe he’ll get hired by their federation and lose them Kik Pierie to our benefit….

    • Who cares? What kind of idiotic posture is that? Times like this is what makes a program improve and grow. Pretending the Gonzalez debacle is not a big deal gives those in charge a free pass to continue their half-assed, mediocre ways.

    • Ronniet,

      At this point you are just down playing this report because you were here a few weeks ago (or whenever it was) telling us that US Soccer had done everything they could and that we were all wrong for the outrage. You were basing your opinion on Thomas Rongen saying what he said. Now we see that it was all a pathetic lie in an attempt to save face for US Soccer. Why are they lying to try and safe face? Because clearly they also know they screwed this one up. So instead of saying “oops” you are saying “who cares!?”

      Just accept it already and stop defending US Soccer. And for those of you saying stuff like, “you shouldn’t have to be recruited to play for your country”, wake up. This is 2018 and recruiting is a major part of soccer now a days. If a player has two or three countries that are “his country” then obviously recruiting will happen and it needs to be successful.

      Spain tried to poach Messi. Caribbean countries lose players to England. Etc etc

  12. All fair points above. The part of this story that is really frustrating to me is that this is 2018 and every player has twitter, etc. How hard would it be to have someone on the scouting staff spending 30 minutes a week tweeting players from a USMNT account – “Congrats on the start Johnathan,” etc. Not just for Gonzalez, but for any of our players that are young and breaking through. Klinsman had many faults, but a lot of the young and dual-nat players expressed appreciation that he was good at reaching out directly. It’s not like this is rocket science. You could basically hire any person that comments on SBI or Goal for like $10 to do this on behalf of USMNT.

    Basically, if a bunch of random fans can identify emerging talent better than an org with a $100M surplus, they are doing it wrong.

  13. You guys are idiots, if option A is showing u they want you and show interest, and option B is not showing you any interest who the hell would you choose? This is the reality if a country with multiple cultures, you guys wanna keep losing talented olayers then keep up with that stupid mentality

    • we’re idiots?? Jona was involved with USSoccer at several youth levels, and Arena and Ramos contacted him on several occasions during WCQ, as was Monterrey! I get that your hurt he left, but there are others who don’t care because playing for your country is an honor and it seems he played USSoccer until Mexico came calling. Anytime a players family says they need to think about whether their son will represent the country he was BORN in, it tells you Jona was being tugged at to represent his parents home country from the get go!

      • He chose to sign for Monterrey at the youth level OVER Chivas because you can’t play for any country other than Mexico and be on that roster. His commitment to the US was firm up until extremely recently.

    • There was no number of visits or level of begging that would have mattered. Do you want to play in a World Cup in 5 months, or maybe in 5 years if the US can qualify.

      • Ohh, that’s how it works? So, do you think that if Tyler Adams or McKennie get an offer to play for Mexico tomorrow they just accept on the spot because it’s the World Cup????

  14. Agree, although dual nationals are in a different position.

    Question: do players apply for residency? Or does it come out of the blue? If it’s the former, the 10 minute thing seems aggressive but understandable, especially if there was communication around when a decision was to be made and encouraging kids and their families to have thought things through in advance. If it’s the latter, not acceptable and completely unfair when you’re uprooting your entire life. Which makes it really hard for me to believe that it happened as has been portrayed. Also thought it was very interesting that Herc tracked down Rongen but not Williams. Don’t think this piecemeal “reporting” is particularly effective without more in depth interviews with a bunch of people at US Soccer, Monterrey and FMF. I also don’t think you can simply take what people are saying at their word. There are agendas on all sides here.


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