Goalkeeping Phenom Jesse González Turns Down USMNT Invite to Join Mexican U-23s

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Twenty-year-old goalkeeping phenom Jesse González has turned down an invite to the U.S. Men’s National Team camp this month in favor of joining the Selección Sub-23. It was a buzzer-beater decision – he turned U.S. coach Jürgen Klinsmann down just one day before roster announcements.

Born in North Carolina but raised in Texas by a dad from Toluca and a mom from the Mexican state of Nayarit, the 6′ 4″ rookie combines what ESPN FC’s Tom Marshall describes as the “physical prowess associated with U.S. keepers and the reflexes of Mexican stoppers.” He earned a starting spot with El Tri at the U-20 World Cup last summer, and went on to strut his stuff during a breakout season with FC Dallas, manning the net for the second half of the season and playoffs.

While González has always seemed dead set on making it big in the Mexican international system, Klinsmann’s invite was pretty tempting. In an interview with Mediotiempo, the goalie said that Klins and other U.S. officials approached and spoke with him, but that “nothing was concrete.” It was not until the very last moment that he decided to choose Mexico. “There will always be resentment between Mexico and the United States, and there were those who felt bitter about my decision too,” he said. “Ever since I was a child I wanted to wear la camiseta de México. It was my dream and you have to fight for that.”

González would have had to file a one-time switch to play for the U.S. had he decided to do so, but mere participation in camp would have been non-binding to put it one way. Now, he’ll be competing with Xolos de Tijuana’s Gibran Lajud for El Tri’s starting spot. Given his standout season, it makes sense that Jesse is looking for big opportunities, minutes, and chances to win, and he’s more likely to achieve all three of those things with El Tri.

“It was a great year for me – going to the Selección, playing in a World Cup, and afterwards coming to Dallas. I won the starting spot and it was a successful year for me. I have to keep my feet on the ground and continue to work hard because there are plenty of things to come,” he explained.