Jonathan Gonzalez to play for Mexico instead of US - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Jonathan Gonzalez to play for Mexico instead of US

(AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File). FILE - In this Aug. 26, 2017, file photo, Monterrey's Jonathan Gonzalez, left, fights for the ball with Cruz Azul's Francisco Silva during a Mexico soccer league match in Mexico City. Monterrey midfielder Jonathan Gonz... (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File). FILE - In this Aug. 26, 2017, file photo, Monterrey's Jonathan Gonzalez, left, fights for the ball with Cruz Azul's Francisco Silva during a Mexico soccer league match in Mexico City. Monterrey midfielder Jonathan Gonz...

By The Associated Press

Monterrey midfielder Jonathan Gonzalez is leaving the U.S. national team program to play for Mexico.

The highly regarded 18-year-old was born in Santa Rosa, California, to Mexican parents. He played for the U.S. Under-17 and Under-20 teams but said Tuesday he will switch to Mexico.

He says in a statement "it is not easy to leave behind the country in which one was born" but added that Mexico is "where my roots originate."

Mexico qualified for this year's World Cup while the U.S. will miss soccer's top event after seven straight appearances. Gonzalez signed with Monterrey in 2014 and made his professional debut last July.

Gonzalez says "the decision I've made has been profoundly difficult."

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