<
>

Jonathan Gonzalez receives FIFA clearance to play for Mexico

play
Why Jonathan Gonzalez chose Mexico over the U.S. (3:28)

ESPN FC's Herculez Gomez gives his take on where the U.S. fell short with Jonathan Gonzalez, leading him to choose to play for Mexico. (3:28)

Former U.S. youth international midfielder Jonathan Gonzalez has received his one-time switch from FIFA, clearing him to play for Mexico.

FIFA notified the Mexican football federation of the decision to grant Gonzalez's change of allegiance on Wednesday.

A FIFA spokesperson wrote in an email to ESPN FC: "Please be informed that the request made by the Mexican Football Federation and the player Jonathan Gonzalez for change of Association was accepted by the Single Judge of the Players' Status Committee and the player is allowed to represent the national team as from the notification of the decision."

The news frees 18-year-old Gonzalez to feature for El Tri in their friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina in San Antonio on Jan. 31, with the Liga MX-dominated squad due to be named by coach Juan Carlos Osorio on Thursday.

Gonzalez, a U.S.-Mexico dual national, was born in California to Mexican parents and played for U.S. youth national teams from the under-14 to under-20 levels but never played for the senior team, keeping him free to switch allegiances.

And after enjoying a breakout year for his club in the Mexican league, where he helped Monterrey win the Copa MX and was named to the Liga MX Apertura Best XI, he decided to play for Mexico, opening a debate in the United States about why and how the young midfielder left the program.

"Today I want to announce my decision to represent Mexico and their national team. I am ready to earn a spot for many years," Gonzalez wrote in a statement on Jan. 9. "I want to express my gratitude to the United States Soccer Federation for all their support and trust during my first years of my soccer development.

"The decision I've made has been profoundly difficult. I carry both my nationalities in my heart very proudly. However, it is time to make decisions and continue accomplishing my dreams, one of which is to represent Mexico."

After the U.S. failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, Mexico director of national teams Dennis te Kloese told ESPN last November that El Tri felt they had a realistic chance of bringing Gonzalez into the fold.

U.S. Soccer, ahead of November's friendly in Portugal, made a decision to allow Gonzalez to stay with his club as it entered the Liga MX playoffs, as playing in the exhibition game would not have tied him to the U.S. anyway. But Gonzalez told Soccer America that no one called him to explain the omission -- something the player reportedly was not happy about.

Thomas Rongen, U.S. Soccer's chief scout under former coach Bruce Arena, told CBS Sports that he had been to Gonzalez's house "three times in the last year" in an effort to retain Gonzalez's services.

However, Gonzalez's father recently told ESPN FC analyst Herculez Gomez that Rongen had never visited the house, and the scout confirmed that he had only been to Monterrey three times to speak to officials about Gonzalez's future.