Giovani Dos Santos is going to have a good week. He put the finishing touches on the 2011 Gold Cup with the goal of the tournament on Sunday. Later in the week, he’ll meet up with Mexico’s U-22 team and get ready for the Copa America. He’ll get to represent Mexico with his brother, Jonathan, in a top-level international tournament for the first time in their careers.
First things first, though. The Gold Cup. If the Gold Cup final showed anything, it is that this US side just does not match-up well with Mexico.
For now. That will change, and then change again, and then… it’s the nature of the rivalry.
But it sure didn’t seem like that after about 23 minutes.
For the better part of the past 10 years, Mexico fans had seen their side fall to the team they could afford to lose to the least. The implications of losing to the gringos were felt far beyond the pitch. Each loss was a crushing blow to the national psyche. Futbol was the one thing Mexico had over their friends from the North, and it looked like that might be going away. And then there was that score, that chant. It was dos a cero.
To rub salt in the wound, it was him, the verdugo, Landon Donovan who go the second one. I am sure there were a lot of fans from both sides who figured the game was over. Hand the obscenely large trophy to the yanks. It was dos a cero after all.
This group, though, is different. Mexico’s squad is littered with players who have played in big games, in finals, numerous times, and at a very young age. Their coach has won 3 in his short career. They also have an abundance of players atypical to Mexico: those gifted with individual skill. And there was that match-up problem for the US. The yanks were weakest where Mexico was strongest. Mexico was going to get their chances.
It only took Mexico 15 minutes to equalize. Javier Hernandez fed Pablo Barrera perfectly, and the former Puma left Tim Howard flat footed. Andres Guardado then capitalized on one of Gio’s many abusive runs and cutbacks to squeeze one past Howard. The fact that Gio was allowed to run to the line and then cut it back inside once was surprising. The fact that he was allowed to do it all game long was shocking. Last summer, both Uruguay and Argentina took away his cutback lane, and Gio was rendered ineffective.
The US did not. And Gio made them pay.
It seems like the conventional wisdom both here at bigsoccer and with the press that cover the US is that Jonathan Bornstein is the big reason why Mexico was able to generate the offense they did. It is a nice excuse, but it would not have mattered whether Bornstein was in or not. The US backline was going to be exploited, regardless of who was playing. Tim Howard has been a terrific deodorant for the US defense, but he could only do so much.
And I hope someone tells Timmy that the post game ceremony was indeed a bilingual affair.
Mexico had injury problems of their own: Carlos Salcido was in no condition to handle Freddy Adu. Jorge Torres Nilo, one of those youngsters was subbed in. Adu was subdued the rest of the match by Torres Nilo and whoever was close enough to provide a constant double team. Adu was dangerous and he had to be accounted for.
Hector Reynoso, the iconic Chivas defender who had never been deemed worthy enough to don the national team uniform got the opportunity of a lifetime when Rafa Marquez injured his hamstring (it appears to be very serious). Pressed into emergency duty, Reynoso acquitted himself very well in his national team debut. He’ll be headed to Argentina as well.
There is no question that Mexico was the class of the Gold Cup. They scored 14 goals in the first stage, another 8 in the knockouts, while only allowing 3. Only one other team cracked the double digit goal tally.
And the summer ain’t over. The U17ers have won their first three matches in the World Cup they are presently hosting, the U19 will be getting it going in Colombia toward the end of July, and we can’t forget the ladies. They are in as wide open a group as any in the Women’s world cup. Copa America starts for Mexico next Sunday.
Gio will be there with his brother. How cool is that?