Jonathan Gonzalez has confirmed his decision to play for Mexico's national team after coming up in the U.S. Soccer system, saying he wants to represent "the country that opened the doors for me."
The 18-year-old had played for U.S. youth national teams and was thought to be committed to the Stars and Stripes until the U.S. failed to qualify for the World Cup and Mexico renewed a recruitment drive.
After news of his decision broke on Monday, Gonzalez said in a statement on Twitter on Tuesday that it was "profoundly difficult" to decide to switch his allegiance to Mexico, where he broke out as a star for Monterrey in Liga MX last year.
"Before anything else, I want to say that I am very grateful for the support that has been provided me during my professional career during the last few months," he wrote.
"Four years ago I arrived in Mexico with the dream of playing soccer professionally, something that I have accomplished with a lot of hard work, dedication, and above everything else, with the support from my family.
"It is not easy to leave behind the country in which one is born; however, Mexico is also my home as it is the country where my parents were born and, consequently, where my roots originate.
"Today I am experiencing a very important moment, perhaps the most important up to now in my professional career and I am convinced that representing a country is, perhaps, one of the greatest honors a soccer player can have in their life.
"Through this medium I want to express that my present is in Mexico, the country that opened the doors for me. I am very grateful for both my coach Ricardo Antonio Mohamed and my club, Monterrey, because they have believed in me and supported my professional development.
"I am also thankful to the coaches who helped my growth, from Atletico Santa Rosa to those who helped during Suedo Alianza tryouts, where I was scouted by the Rayados scout, Alberto Ordaz.
"Today I want to announce my decision to represent Mexico and their National Team. I am ready to earn a spot for many years.
"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."
Gonzalez will now have to file a one-time switch with FIFA to be able to play for Mexico, and the youngster could be available as soon as El Tri's Jan. 31 friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina in San Antonio.
The full statement comes after Gonzalez wrote about Mexico on Monday night: "If they consider me, I'm committed to defending the colors of this country. It would be an honor."
Shortly before Gonzalez's announcement, the Mexican national team welcomed him, responding to his earlier tweet by writing: "A Mexican is born wherever they please."
Un mexicano nace donde se le da la gana 😎— Selección Nacional (@miseleccionmx) January 9, 2018
The phrase is a quote commonly attributed to singer Chavela Vargas, who moved to Mexico from Costa Rica as a teenager and established a legendary career in the country.
It references the fact that Gonzalez was born and raised in the United States before he moved to join Monterrey's academy as a 14-year-old.