SAN JOSE, Calif. — Given the matchup in this year’s Chipotle MLS Homegrown Game, the only question for FC Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez was which locker room he’d be using at Avaya Stadium.
Gonzalez, 21, has made seven appearances with the Mexican U-20 national team, which will be facing the MLS’ latest crop of potential stars Wednesday night (9 pm ET, MLS LIVE). And since the Mexican side is using players born in 1995, Gonzalez technically could have suited up for the visitors.
“It is strange, but it’s something I’m looking forward to,” said Gonzalez, who has been texting back and forth with some of countrymen in the run-up to the game. “It’s something to enjoy and have fun.”
The appearance in San Jose this week provides an opportunity for Gonzalez, who missed out on a spot with the Mexican U-23 Olympic team that’s going to Rio next month. Coach Raul Gutierrez took Toluca veteran Alfredo Talavera as an overage player to man the net, with Tijuana’s 22-year-old Gibran Lajud serving as the backup goalkeeper.
“It’s something that motivates you as a player,” Gonzalez said. “Knowing that you’re there, that you could make the Olympic team is something that’s in your head and makes you want to push even more for success.”
Gonzalez had plenty of success last year when he took over in net for FC Dallas and led them to a 7-3-1 finish during the regular season’s final stretch and into the Western Conference finals. But he had a nightmarish appearance against Houston in the second week of the 2016 season — allowing all five goals in a Dynamo rout — and then left to join the Mexican U-23s, leaving the door open for Chris Seitz.
Seitz has responded by grabbing hold of the job and going 9-3-5 with a 1.18 goals-against-average. Gonzalez, meanwhile, has made only one start — winning 3-1 against Chicago on July 16 — since coming back from a neck injury suffered in May.
“It’s tough as a goalkeeper, going back and forth. That’s always difficult,” Gonzalez said. “But me and Seitzy have a great friendship and we keep pushing each other. I think that’s one of the reasons we’ve done so well, even rotating.”