Jesse Gonzalez: Bruce Arena helped convince me to make U.S. switch

United States manager Bruce Arena helped convince Jesse Gonzalez to switch his national team allegiance from Mexico to the U.S., the goalkeeper told ESPN FC TV on Friday.

Gonzalez last month committed his international future to the U.S. after FIFA approved a one-time switch for the FC Dallas man.

Gonzalez was born in Edenton, North Carolina, but qualified for Mexico citizenship through his parents. He played for Mexico at both the under-20 and under-23 levels, but never for the senior team.

The 22-year-old had been included in Arena's 40-man preliminary squad ahead of the ongoing Gold Cup before officially making the change. And though he wasn't named to the initial 23-man roster to start the competition, he was later added to the team for the knockout stage.

Speaking to ESPN FC, Gonzalez cited Arena's influence -- as well as previous talks with U.S. Soccer -- for helping him ultimately choose the U.S.

"The U.S. had already opened the doors for me in the past, and I think it's something, as a player, that you want to feel like you're someone, that they're supporting you in everything," Gonzalez said.

"And the U.S. did that, and I think Bruce did a great job of convincing me as well. He told me I was playing in MLS and it's way easier to keep track of you and everything. And I think he also did a great job of telling me of my future, and I think he had a point in that, and I agreed, and everything happened."

The battle between Mexico and the U.S. over his future had been going on for some time. Gonzalez was set to participate in the U.S. team's January camp in 2016, but then had a change of heart, and joined Mexico's U23 camp instead.

Upon making the switch, however, he said his family's reaction was his chief concern.

"The hardest part was how my family was going to react. I think it's something that I was really thinking about so much because all my family is Mexican," he said.

"But at the end of the day, they were supportive and told me they were going to support me in any decision I made."

Gonzalez is one of many eligible to represent both countries, a fact that isn't lost on him.

Asked about the role Mexican-Americans will play in the rivalry between the two sides, he said: "It's going to be very important because now they can either be playing for Mexico or the U.S.

"And at the same time they've got to be able to manage the pressure and as long as they do that, they're going to be good. I think it's something that's going to be great for the future."

Of the rivalry itself, Gonzalez said: "It's great. The whole world wants to see these type of games. And I think it's just a battle inside the field because outside the field everybody's friends.

"They think it's really bad, but I think it's just inside the field."