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."