Giovani Takes Mexico Closer to South Africa

Dos Santos set up 2 tap-ins and scored another in the 3-0 rout

Eight years ago, almost to the day, Mexico was in Kingston, losing in the worst possible way: an early own goal was the difference. Mexico was a little over than 20 minutes from seeing their world cup hopes fade away. But Cuauhtemoc Blanco, who was playing his first game in a year, single-handedly revived Mexico’s world cup hopes with a memorable second half brace. Mexico did not lose another game, and it was Blanco, again, who scored them through to the world cup.

Last night at the Saprissa, a stadium in which Mexico has not lost since 1992, just before halftime, Temo spotted Giovani Dos Santos and fed him a 40 meter pass. Gio had enough time to settle, drive and shoot. 0-1 Mexico. The only fans in red that were quieter than the Ticos were in Cowboys Stadium last night. With the lead and a defensive formation on the pitch, Mexico were happy to settle for counter attack strikes when Costa Rica were exposed.

Were they ever.

Giovani Dos Santos added two sublime assists to his goal as Mexico crushed Costa Rica, 3-0. The win put Mexico into the qualifying zone and sent Costa Rica tumbling from first to fourth, with limited opportunities to crawl their way out. If Mexico is to qualify for the world cup, we’ll point to as the catalyst, the game that Giovani Dos Santos fireman carried Mexico to South Africa. Just as Temo did in Jamaica.

WCQs are sometimes choppy, palpably tense, and always compelling. Javier Aguirre knows this, and he also knows that players with superlative individual skills can get hot like Blanco did in 2001. This time, it's Gio's turn.

Aguirre played with Gio's father, Zizinho, at Club America. Gio met Aguirre when he was just a kid, so the coach knows as well as anyone what his player can do. Aguirre has leaned on Gio, and the kid has responded. It was very telling that Gio went to hug his coach after the first goal. Thanks for believing in me, coach.

Dos Santos had a great game, but he didn’t do it all by himself. Mexico’s defense was as good as it had been in years. Ricardo Osorio is more comfortable in the middle than he is on the flanks. Efrain Juarez, another one of the 2005 U17 team, was very impressive. Guille Franco’s tireless and physical efforts wore down and tired out the Costa Rican defenders. They both made it much easier for Gio to do his thing, and all played a part in Mexico’s second goal.

And what of Blanco? He set up Gio for his goal, and was a constant threat every time he had the ball. It was very audible that the crowd noticed every time Blanco was in possession. He also hustled all the way down the field on Mexico’s last goal. Blanco is not for everyone, and that’s fine, but you cannot deny his heart and love for the game.

Mexico got a huge win, but it won’t mean anything unless they take care of business next Wednesday at the Azteca. Honduras is every bit as hot as Mexico. They have beaten Mexico three out of the last four. And did I mention that they got their panther back? A win, though, could put Mexico in a guaranteed spot clincher next month at home to El Salvador. If it happens, it would be why Mexico brought in their fireman, Aguirre, and because he asked Gio to do the heavy lifting.