Although he was left off Mexico’s Under-20 World Cup roster, Jonathan Gonzalez has earned recognition for his sterling play.
Rising to notoriety in early 2018 when he famously chose Mexico over the United States national team, Jonathan Gonzalez (pictured at left, above) had to deal with the inevitable expectations placed upon him by the Mexican media and some fans too.
The 20-year-old midfielder has enjoyed a meteoric rise at the club level with Monterrey after signing with the Rayados in 2014 as a 15-year-old. Under then-coach Antonio Mohamed, Gonzalez won a starting spot as a midfielder in the Apertura 2017 season and surprised pundits with his tenacious defense, his ball-handling and his maturity. He made the Ideal 11 after that season and went on to win the Liga MX Rookie of the Year Award after the 2017-2018 season.
Then, after playing for the U.S. national team through the youth level, the California native announced in January 2018 that he would play for El Tri at the senior level. He debuted with Team Mexico on Jan. 31, 2018, in a friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina.
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Things have not gone so smoothly since then as Gonzalez suffered a few niggling injuries and has lost his starting spot in Monterrey’s midfield. New coach Diego Alonso has preferred to start Paraguayan veteran Celso Ortiz and upstart Carlos Rodríguez, although Gonzalez has earned a starting role in a few key matches for Monterrey in the Concacaf Champions League.
Gonzalez’s struggles and injuries also saw him miss out on a few of El Tri’s friendlies in 2019, costing him the opportunity to impress new Mexico coach Gerardo Martino. In April, it was revealed that he will not be featuring in the upcoming Under-20 World Cup for Mexico this summer. The news was a surprise to many since few observers believe he is ready to challenge for a permanent spot on the senior team, and many thought the U-20 World Cup would provide much needed international experience.
The decision was apparently not based on Gonzalez’s talent level, however. The U-20 training camp is set to start in less than 10 days and his club team – Monterrey – asked that he not be sleected so that he could play for the Rayados in the Liga MX playoffs. Still, it is unfortunate as Gonzalez’s only real experience with El Tri has been with the U-21’s who finished as runners-up in the Toulon Tournament in France in the summer of 2018.
However, not all is doom and gloom for the youngster. This past week, Monterrey hoisted the Concacaf Champions League trophy after beating crosstown rivals Tigres by a 2-1 aggregate scoreline. Days later, the CCL website announced that Gonzalez was selected as the winner of the Young Player Award, an award once bestowed on none other than Hirving “Chucky” Lozano back in 2016. Gonzalez appeared in six CCL games – five as a starter – in helping the Rayados claim their fourth CCL title.
This award is a significant reminder that Jonathan Gonzalez is a genuine talent and we can expect a long and fruitful career with both club and country. His fans – and fans of the Rayados – can root for him to play big minutes during the upcoming Liguilla and hope that he is there at the end to earn another title. Gonzalez has hopes of one day playing in Europe; he surely has the desire, the discipline and the determination to make it happen.