One of the most exciting prospects in the U.S. Men’s National Team pipeline is 18-year-old Jonathan Gonzalez. Long part of the U.S. Youth National Team setup, the holding midfielder was recently named a finalist for 2017 U.S. Soccer Young Male Player of the Year, thanks in large part to his breakout campaign with Liga MX side Monterrey and appears to have a bright future ahead for both club and country.
Here are five things you should know about the Rayados’ midfielder:
The son of Mexican-American parents, Jonathan Gonzalez was born on April 13, 1999, in Santa Rosa, Calif. He grew up playing for his hometown club Atletico before embarking on a professional journey down south. More on that later...
U.S. Youth National Teams
A dual citizen of the United States and Mexico, Gonzalez has long been in the U.S. Youth National Team program, often as one of the youngest players in his respective teams. The talented midfielder earned his first international call-up in 2012, joining the likes of current MNT players Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie with the U-14 Boys’ National Team.
Gonzalez has continued to represent U.S. youth teams at almost every level and tasted success in 2016 when he helped the U-18 MNT win the Václav Ježek Tournament in the Czech Republic.
He most recently represented the U-20 MNT earlier this year, when at age 17, he was included in Tab Ramos’ squad for the 2017 CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Costa Rica.
The youngest member of the first U.S. squad to win the CONCACAF U-20 Championship, Gonzalez made two appearances for Ramos’ side in 2017 and remains age-eligible to be part of the U-20 cycle for 2019.
Liga MX Discovery
While Gonzalez was firmly in the U.S. Youth National Team pipeline, a major turning point in his young career came during a 2013 Alianza de Futbol event held in San Francisco. Scouted heavily by clubs in both the U.S. and Mexico, the event proved to be a breakout showcase for Gonzalez, who impressed enough to reportedly receive Academy offers from 13 of the 18 Liga MX clubs in attendance.
Ultimately, he decided to accept an offer to join the Academy of storied Mexican side Monterrey. While he was taking the next step with one of the top clubs in Mexican football, the decision for him to move at such a young age didn’t come easily for his family.
"I still remember the day I left," Gonzalez told ESPNFC in August. "I was 14, about to turn 15, and my parents were really nervous. I really wanted to go and they were between should we let him go, should we not. But we sat down, had a family talk and we thought it was probably the best for me."
Gonzalez continued the trend of “playing up” with older age groups, slotting in with the U-17 side not long after joining the club and playing plenty with the U-20 team. Pulling double-duty, he ended his time with the younger side by helping the team win the Liga MX U-17 title in May 2017.
Jump to Monterrey First Team
Having impressed at youth level, Gonzalez was invited to the first team’s training camp ahead of the 2017 Apertura tournament. There, he found himself in a unique position while regular holding midfielder and Mexican international Jesus Molina was away at the CONCACAF Gold Cup with El Trí.
Given another opportunity to shine, the 18-year-old took full advantage in the lead-up to the new season as Monterrey boss Antonio Mohamed rewarded the effort when he made the decision to start Gonzalez in the club’s season-opener on July 21 at Morelia.
"He came and talked to me and told me I have a lot of potential, [and] that I would be starting because the starting center-mid [Jesus Molina] was with the [Mexican] national team," Gonzalez said to ESPN FC. "He told me it was my time to take the opportunity and not let it go."
A simple yet effective player, Gonzalez has become a fixture in the Monterrey midfield ever since his mid-July debut, appearing in 24 games across all competitions. The cover in front of Los Rayados’ back line, Gonzalez’s ability to see the game combined with his composure in possession has been revelatory in helping Monterrey clinch the regular season title as well as places in the 2017 Apertura Liga MX and Copa MX Finals.
Thanks to his involvement with the U.S. U-20 MNT and his breakout run with Monterrey, Gonzalez was nominated for U.S. Soccer’s Young Male Player of the Year on Dec. 5.
The U-20 MNT midfielder took part in both legs of the Liga MX APertura 2017 Final as Monterrey fell 3-2 on aggregate to city-rivals Tigres UANL on Dec. 10. With consideration towards his breakout campaign, days later, Gonzalez was named to Diaro Récord's Liga MX Best XI.
ONCE IDEAL A2017— DIARIO RÉCORD (@record_mexico) December 13, 2017
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🇧🇷 Juninho 🐯
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🇲🇽 P. Aguilar 🦅
🇦🇷 L. Vangioni 🤠
🇺🇸 J. González 🤠
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🇨🇴 A. Hurtado 🤠
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¿Qué cambios harían?https://t.co/FTKB5xjCjX pic.twitter.com/xVP3yr7bE6
Gonzalez and Los Rayados will try to make amends for their miss in the Liga MX Final when they face MNT defender Omar Gonzalez and Pachuca in the Copa MX Final on Thursday, Dec. 21 in Monterrey.Read more
Many fans don’t know that U.S. Soccer is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that receives no federal funding. Generous donors help support our mission to make soccer the preeminent sport in America. As U.S. Soccer celebrates Fan Week, here are five things you should know about donors and their impact on the beautiful game.
BUILDING THE NEXT GENERATION OF WORLD-CLASS PLAYERS, COACHES AND NATIONAL TEAMS
Through their contributions to the U.S. Soccer Development Fund, donors are making an impact on the game they love by investing in programs and people who will inspire us all. The Development Fund was launched in 2016 and is focused on developing:
- World-class players by increasing opportunities through the Scholarship Program
- More and better coaches to benefit players of all ages and abilities across the country
- National Teams that consistently succeed on the international stage through enhanced identification infrastructure and innovative high-performance programs.
You can read more about these important development areas and the impact of donors this past year in the 2017 Impact Report.
CHANGING LIVES THROUGH THE SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM
In 2017, with donors’ support, U.S. Soccer doubled the amount of need-based scholarships for talented young boys and girls in the Development Academy. These scholarships help erode the pay-to-play model at the highest level of youth soccer and allow kids to pursue their dreams with access to life-changing soccer opportunities. The average scholarship is $1,400 and helps offset travel costs of elite training and competition during the 10-month Academy season.
A SHARED EXPERIENCE
From exploring new cities together during high-access programs like the Patrons Program, to daily trainings sessions in a team-environment like Fantasy Camps, donors are getting closer to the game than ever before. They’re making meaningful, lasting connections with other supporters around the country.
Together, they’re building soccer networks and communities that bridge industries, geographies and ages, uniting us as “One Nation. One Team.”
Collectively, donors are making transformational gifts to U.S. Soccer. Elite Circle members supporting the U.S. Soccer Development Fund have contributed more than one million dollars, Patrons have given more than one-and-a-half million and Fantasy Camp participants have invested more than $500,000 in the future of the sport.
These sums don’t even include individual restricted gifts given for unique U.S. Soccer programs, hosted fundraisers, Development Council activities and more. We are inspired everyday by the open-hearted and thoughtful generosity of U.S. Soccer donors. Thank you for everything you do.
FANS SUPPORT A SPORT AND A NATION
In addition to supporting U.S. Soccer, this year fans donated more than $140,000 to hurricane relief efforts through the American Red Cross and $60,000 to charities through autographed jersey auction sales. They participated in food drives, equipment drives, and thank-you letter-writing campaigns for first responders across the United States. U.S. Soccer fans not only support growing our great sport, they help everyone throughout our great nation.
Few U.S. Men’s National Team players have garnered as much interest as Christian Pulisic. Since breaking onto the MNT scene in March 2016, the young midfielder has become one of the most important players for both the USA and Borussia Dortmund. So how did he arrive at this point?
Here are five things you should know about the 19-year-old midfielder:
Christian Pulisic was born Sept. 18, 1998, in Hershey, Pa., with soccer already running through his veins. His parents Mark and Kelley met while playing collegiate soccer at George Mason University before his dad went on to have an impressive eight-year career as a goal poacher with the indoor Harrisburg Heat. During much of that time, Mark also served as the men’s and women’s coach at Lebanon Valley College through 2005.
- READ MORE: Christian Pulisic Living His Soccer Dream
In 2005, the family moved to England for a year when Christian’s mother received a Fulbright scholarship to work on a teaching exchange. Living eight miles north of Oxford in the tiny village of Tackley, seven-year-old Pulisic suited up for the youth side of sixth-tier Brackley Town -- an experience that his father credits with setting him on his current path.
“It was only one year, but if you look back it was what propelled him into playing the game,” Mark Pulisic told The Guardian in 2016. “Christian went to play in tournaments and really fell in love, became obsessed with the sport. He played every day at school and after school, going out into the playground and kicking the ball around with kids of any age.”
In 2006 the family returned to the U.S. as Mark took on the head coaching job for the Detroit Ignition of the Major Indoor Soccer League. After he guided the club to the MISL championship series in 2007, the family returned to the Hershey area where Pulisic began playing for U.S. Soccer Development Academy side PA Classics in 2008.
It wasn’t long before he showed up on U.S. Soccer’s radar.
Current U.S. Soccer Youth Technical Director and U-20 MNT head coach Tab Ramos recalled the first time he saw Pulisic play during a Development Academy event in Washington, D.C.
“He completely looked like someone's little brother that just jumped on the field, and I was waiting for someone to get him out,” Ramos told Sports Illustrated. “Then I realized, 'Wow, not only does he look like he doesn't belong physically, but he's running the show. This kid is running the show.' He clearly was younger, smaller and didn't look like he belonged in the game until he was around the ball, until you watched the game for about five minutes and you realized that everybody was playing through him. And the pace of the game was completely run by him.”
Pulisic made his way into the U.S. Youth National Team funnel in 2012, when he began playing for the U-15 Boy’s National Team as a 13-year-old. The Hershey, Pa., native scored 21 goals in 28 international appearances the next two years before moving into U.S. Soccer’s U-17 MNT Residency Program in 2013.
That December, Pulisic and the U-17 MNT dazzled their way to the 2013 Nike International Friendlies championship, where he stood out in the side’s 4-1 thumping of Brazil in the tournament finale. Though his decision to sign with Borussia Dortmund in February 2015 limited his contributions the rest of the year, Pulisic went on to tally 28 goals in 34 international matches and captained the U.S. side at the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile, where he added a goal and assist.
A Move to Germany
Even prior to playing at the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup, Pulisic had been on the radar of many European clubs. Mark took his son to visit different sides during the summer to experience those environments and eventually the time came for him to make the jump abroad.
“Once, as parents, we felt he was ready and it was something he wanted, we went to visit [Borussia] Dortmund,” Mark Pulisic said. “All of us decided we felt it was the right move and the club was great with us, so we took the plunge. You have to go with your gut feeling.”
Still just 16 years old, Christian moved to Dortmund in February 2015 and officially signed with the club that summer after securing a Croatian passport that allowed for him to count as a domestic European player. After graduating from the U-17 side that July, Pulisic recorded four goals and three assists in seven matches with the U-19 team and was rewarded with an invitation to first-team training camp in Dubai during the Bundesliga’s winter break in January 2016.
Pulisic has rarely played for the club’s youth sides since that trip. He went on to make his first team debut on Jan. 30 vs. Ingolstadt and scored two goals in a week’s time that April in matching 3-0 wins vs. Hamburg and Stuttgart.
Competing in his first full Bundesliga season, Pulisic made 43 appearances across all competitions in 2016-17, tallying five goals and nine assists along the way. Even when he wasn't scoring, Pulisic proved vital for BVB down the stretch, earning game-winning penalty kicks in back-to-back matches -- a 4-3 win against Werder Bremen on May 20 and a 2-1 victory against Eintracht Frankfurt in the DFB Pokal Final a week later. With that result, Pulisic joined former MNT captain Thomas Dooley as just the second U.S. player to win the prestigious German Cup competition.
Receiving the Call
Coming on the heels of his strong spring run for Dortmund, Pulisic was called to U.S. camp for the MNT’s important World Cup Qualifying match against Guatemala on March 29, 2016. With the U.S. leading 3-0, Pulisic replaced Graham Zusi in the 81st minute, becoming the youngest U.S. player to appear in a World Cup Qualifying match at 17 years, 193 days – one of many things Pulisic did faster than anyone.
Named as part of the USA’s Copa America Centenario squad, Pulisic scored his first international goal in a warm-up friendly when he put the exclamation point on the MNT’s 4-0 friendly win against Bolivia. Putting in a star shift in the USA’s last two Semifinal Round World Cup Qualifiers against St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad & Tobago, Pulisic ran away with U.S. Soccer’s Young Male Player of the Year Award in 2016.
Pulisic picked up where he left off this past March, running rampant in midfield as he picked up a goal and two assists in the USA’s -- in total playing a part in five goals -- in the USA's 6-0 World Cup Qualifying rout of Honduras. Four days later, he assisted on Clint Dempsey’s goal as the U.S. earned a hard-fought point on the road in Panama.
In June, he tallied the equalizer in a 1-1 draw against Venezuela before scoring both goals in the USA's crucial 2-0 World Cup Qualifying victory against Trinidad & Tobago. Pulisic finished 2017 with six goals and four assists across nine matches in 2017 and in one way or another, was involved in 13 of the 17 goals that were scored by the MNT in the matches he appeared in. Finishing 2017 with nine goals in 20 career international matches, Pulisic is trending ahead of nearly all of the MNT's top goal scorers at that period in their own careers.
The Youngest to…
Pulisic’s meteoric rise has included a plethora of “youngest player” records at both the club and international level. We’ve counted a number of impressive feats he’s achieved for both club and country in the past year, and there’s certainly still more to come.Read more
Statement from the Nominating and Governance Committee on Potential Candidates for U.S. Soccer President
CHICAGO (Dec. 13, 2017) – As of 12 a.m. today, U.S. Soccer has received three or more letters of nomination for eight (8) potential candidates for the office of President of U.S. Soccer. Background checks are still being completed on a number of potential candidates who submitted their authorization form Tuesday evening.
To afford the time necessary to properly complete all background checks, and in the interest of ensuring a level playing field, the Nominating and Governance Committee will formally confirm the slate of candidates when the background check process has been completed for each of the eight potential candidates. Background checks are required by U.S. Soccer Bylaw 401, Section 5.
The Nominating and Governance Committee is authorized by Bylaw 431 to oversee “the process for nominating candidates for elective office and for determining their eligibility to hold office.” The process the Committee is following is: (1) to review the nomination letters received to ensure there are sufficient nominations/letters of support submitted by organization members and/or athlete members of the Board of Directors; and (2) to ensure the individual has completed a background check with the National Center for Safety Initiatives and that no conviction or no contest plea to a felony or crime of moral turpitude was reported.
Provided the candidate has met each prerequisite, they will be confirmed on the candidate slate. Once the process is complete, the slate will be announced. The Committee has no plans to make public the nomination letters or the number received by any candidate on the final slate.Read more