Mexico director Te Kloese sees bright future for Jonathan Gonzalez after El Tri debut

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Mexico's director of national teams played a big role in the Monterrey midfielder's one-time switch and likes what he saw Wednesday

SAN ANTONIO — Mexico's director of national teams Dennis te Kloese was pleased with the fruits of his labor as midfielder Jonathan Gonzalez represented the Mexico national team for the first time Wednesday night.

The California-born Gonzalez had represented the United States several times at the youth level but filed a one-time change of association with FIFA to suit up for El Tri. Te Kloese was a large part of the recruitment efforts, meeting with Gonzalez and his family at their home during the holidays while Mexico manager Juan Carlos Osorio joined the meeting by phone to explain how he saw Gonzalez fitting in with El Tri.

That fit turned out to be in a more advanced role than the one Gonzalez plays with his club, Monterrey, but the 18-year-old had a strong showing in Mexico's 1-0 friendly victory against Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

"As our manager said he’s a young player with a very good present and, I think, an important future," Te Kloese said after the match. "He’s showing a lot of good things to be able to enter in an international match at his young age. He makes good decisions, for his age he’s very mature not only on the field but also off it. I’m really happy, most of all for him and his family."

While Osorio was careful to note that he made no assurances to Gonzalez about a spot on this summer's World Cup roster, he also has noted the door is open for Gonzalez to play his way onto the final 23-man team. Te Koese said his impression is that Gonzalez has as good of a chance as anyone who took part in Wednesday's match, which fell outside a FIFA window and included no Europe-based players, to make the team.

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"Obviously all the players, him and everyone else, will return to their clubs where they have to show important things to keep being in the manager and coaching staff’s plans. I think Jonathan has given signs that he wants to compete and despite his young age has things that can help the team and the feeling, like Osorio said, is positive," said Te Kloese, who took his current role in August of 2017.

The director also noted that there are a handful of potential opponents for Mexico's final game in the United States, likely to be played in late May. El Tri will face Iceland on March 23 and likely will play Croatia four days later, though that game has not been announced by the Mexican federation or Soccer United Marketing, which coordinates Mexico's U.S. friendly dates. There also are friendly matches scheduled for June 2 against Scotland in the Estadio Azteca and June 9 against Denmark on European soil.

"As it’s here in the United States, we’re giving space to our partner SUM, letting them announce it and doing things as they should be done. When they announce it, we’ll talk about it formally," Te Kloese said. As for who the opponent will be, "There are different options, and I think it will be solidified in the upcoming days."

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