FC Dallas keeper Jesse Gonzalez to represent Mexico rather than U.S.

Gonzalez praises FC Dallas academy - Via FC Dallas (1:19)

FC Dallas' Jesse Gonzalez talks how proud he is to be a product of the FC Dallas youth academy. (1:19)

FC Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez has decided to represent Mexico rather than the United States if given the opportunity to play senior international football.

Gonzalez, a Mexican-American, had verbally accepted an invitation to the U.S. camp in 2016 before changing his mind and joining Mexico's Olympic-bound under-23 team instead.

The 21-year-old has represented both Mexico's U20s and U23s but would be eligible to play for either country until being called into a senior team.

Gonzalez, born in North Carolina to Mexican parents, said he was "thankful for everything in America" and "was not losing respect" for the country but added: "Sometimes my family reminds me they're all Mexican, and I always grew up with that in my heart.

"America has given us a lot, but being a Mexican is always something special for us. The thing is you have to respect both countries. I am a Mexican-American. That's who I am."

Dallas coach Oscar Pareja acknowledged that the fierce football rivalry between the two nations meant Gonzalez had faced "a difficult decision."

But he said: "He had his whole family, his roots, all his past, belong to a country. It means a lot, but at the same time he has been growing in America.

"We spoke a few times about it and when it came to a decision my suggestion to him was to let the heart guide -- and that's not going to be a mistake."

In April, Gonzalez had said he would prefer to play for Mexico rather than the United States should he get called up.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.