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The battle for Mexican-Americans continues between El Tri and USMNT


The Mexican national team is playing a friendly on Wednesday against Guatemala and while it is very much a match meant to have a look at the fringes of the El Tri player pool, it is also an opportunity for the Mexican federation to take a closer look at some more Mexican-American players.

David Ochoa, Alejandro Zendejas and Jonathan Gomez are all part of El Tri’s roster for the friendly in Orlando against Guatemala, a match that will be played by a Mexico squad missing its top stars. Ochoa is taking part in his first senior-team camp since his filing his Change of Association to play for Mexico after initially representing the United States on the youth national team levels and has the third goalkeeper for the USMNT at last year’s Concacaf Nations League finals.

Zendejas, an El Paso, Texas native, is believed to have filed a Change of Assocation well before this first senior team call-up and the former U.S. youth national team player is reportedly set to start against Guatemala. Zendejas is in the midst of a career year with Club America.

While Ochoa and Zendejas were already tied to El Tri before the most recent camp, Mexico has also called in Jonathan Gomez, who made his USMNT debut back in December. The Real Sociedad reserve team player is an intriguing left back prospect, and he impressed in his cameo off the bench for the Americans, helping set up the winning goal in a 1-0 friendly win vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Playing for Mexico in a friendly won’t cap-tie Gomez, but both El Tri and the USMNT will be interested in having Gomez take part in the Concacaf Under-20 Championships this summer, a tournament that will determine who qualifies for both the Under-20 World Cup and the next Olympics, in 2024.

Both El Tri and the USMNT have had some success securing the services of Mexican Americans, with Gregg Berhalter’s side landing Ricardo Pepi last fall, while El Tri secured the services of Ochoa and Julian Araujo, as well as LA Galaxy midfielder Efrain Alvarez.

The Americans haven’t slowed down their own pursuit of Mexican-American prospects, with promising teenager and Real Salt Lake defender Jaziel Orozco being named to the most recent U.S. Under-20 men’s national team camp squad after having previously taken part in Mexican youth national team camps.

Mexican-Americans will continue to find themselves having to choose between national teams for years to come, just as several players before them have had to in the past.

What do you think of this latest development on the Mexican-American player front?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. JoGo has less competition for LB spot behind Jedi. Depth is good if he doesn’t play for the US. I’m not too concerned, which ever country he chooses. I’d keep on eye the midfielders- Alex Mendez, Richie Ledezma, & attackers Cade Cowell & super youngster Obed Vargas ( in that order), would be the dominoes to fall. US midfield is becoming deeper daily. Less opportunities in the midfield for dual nats to break into the roster. It’s a personal choice per player, but its more evidence to me that the US has come leaps & bounds in developing players good enough for other countries to recruit. Good luck to players & families! This is what futbol nations go thru when talent development is good. ‘Viva La Raza!’

    • OK- Ledezma is the one I think is the most important prospect of that group although that is based on pre-injury performances. He is starting to get some minutes again so hopefully geys back to where he was soon.

    • …and Gomez got 13 minutes. He has a better chance to play for the US. Evidence- GB has called up a player from La Liga 2 several times, Tata hasn’t.

  2. The US has had mixed results over the years with our Mexican-American duel nationals. In recent years we were successful in getting Torres, Castillo and keeping Pepi…but have lost the battle for Jonathan Gonzlez, Ochoa, Araujo. I consider these true losses since they were all part of the US youth system.
    Alvarez I don’t really consider a loss since he was in the Mexico youth system….and we were trying to pry him away.
    Gomez is the current battle ground, and he’s spent time in both countries youth teams. He’s one of the biggest prospects either country has, and plays a position that both countries need depth at. If he choses to Mexico it will be a real loss for the US.

    • Efra started with US, he was the best player U15s in a tournament in Argentina in April 2016 4g 2a in 3 matches. Called back that June for matches in Croatia. Only played once had some sort of disagreement with USSF personnel and jumped to Mexico. What happened was never fully explained or who the US Soccer person was.

    • He does play a position of need…but hes barely playing at the level (league) of Shaq Moore. Right now I would rate Paredes higher. Ochoa is ok..but Slolina can be legendary. Araujo was good in MLS but would have to beat off quiete a few higher rated players.

      • Mike C – To ypur point, i think both Dest and Scally are younger than Aroujo and are already playing at a much higher level. His chances at Mexico vs chances at US probably played heavily into his decision, regardless of what he said. Probably wouldnt go over too well for him to say I picked Mexico because I think I have a better chance to play because I think US has better players at my position.

      • Gomez has played their last 11 games, starting most of them. He wasn’t old enough to move until January window and they gave him a month to adjust. From Feb. 13 Shaq has 6 app 290 mins. Gomez 11 app 858 mins. Your he “barely plays” assessment seems uninformed since he’s played 87% of their minutes since arriving. Paredes is more W than WB, Gomez is good going forward but he’s more LB and WB. If Sociedad wasn’t in a battle for Conference League spot he’d probably end the year with more 1st team minutes than Paredes. Wolfsburg is almost assured to stay up and has no chance of European play so Kevin may get a few more minutes but Wolfsburg is where USYNT stars go to fizzle out so they’ll probably play some 29 year old Romanian journeyman whose contract is expiring just to keep with tradition. Hopefully Kevin handles his inevitable loan next season well (they loan all their youth) and doesn’t end up with lost years like Llanez and Kobe Hernandez Foster.

    • If we loss a player because they say there heart was always with Mexico, I don’t consider that a loss because it was never going to happen whether they entertained playing in youth team set ups or not! Some things just can’t be overcome, like what you feel in your heart! Jonathan Gonzalez was not a loss from my perspective, has he even been called up to El Tri since he decided to choose Mexico over the USMNT?

  3. How many Mexican Americans have actually been selected for a World Cup by the Mexican national team? Mex fans only accept dual nats when they are naturalized Brazilans or Argentinians. Those players are ok..perennial Gold Cup players…but the greatest loss by far would be Slonina which is looking more and more possible. I would trade all three for Slolina. Cap tie Slolina

    • Do you expect Berhalther to put a gun to Slonina’s head? You can’t “force cap” him. He’s smart enough to know Poland are hot for him.

      I don’t know if Nations League cap ties him but if not then you’re talking about playing him in the World Cup.

      If this kid is the real deal, I’m happy to leave our mediocre keepers home and start him in all three group games. Back him up with Sean Johnson. But you have to start him. Unless the USMNT gets blown out ( I don’t see us blowing any of our group opponents out) then whoever is the backup is not getting a minute.

      No matter how good this Slonina is, I don’t see this USMNT manager giving the kid World Cup starts.


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