The Mexican National Team Needs the Dos Santos Brothers
Both Jonathan and Giovani are starring for their club teams. It's time for Mexico to bring them back to the national team.
Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports
The Dos Santos brothers are on fire.
Giovani, the eldest by 11 months, has recently been incredible for the Los Angeles Galaxy. During September 8th's 3-3 result against Real Salt Lake, the 27-year-old scored two goals and had an assist. Four days after that eye-catching match, Giovani turned heads once again with two more goals and an assist in the 4-2 win over Orlando City.
Not to be outdone, Jonathan, a midfielder for Villarreal, also made headlines.
By halftime of last Thursday's Europa League game between Villarreal and FC Zurich, it was clear that the younger Dos Santos was the best player on the pitch.
During the first 45 minutes, the 26-year-old Villarreal starter covered an extensive amount of area in the midfield, created dangerous runs down the right side of the field, and provided a goal and assist. He was substituted out of the match in the 71st minute—otherwise, he may have added to those stats.
Despite this success, there are no guarantees that either Giovani or Jonathan will be returning to the Mexican national team anytime soon. In fact, both have yet to make a single appearance for El Tri in 2016.
Depending on who you ask, you'll get plenty of different answers on why the Dos Santos brothers are currently exiled from the national team. The "drama" between the family and the Mexican Football Federation (FMF) is extensive and probably worthy of a novel that would include chapters on: Threats to never play for El Tri in 2010, suspensions and fines during the 2011 Copa America, controversial tweets in 2015, and, most recently, a reported rejection of a call-up for Mexico in the 2016 Copa America.
Regardless of how it's framed, the two parties have been at odds with each other for a long time now.
Yet, now more than ever, the Mexican national team needs Giovani and Jonathan. After the embarrassing 7-0 loss to Chile in the quarterfinals of the Copa America in June, El Tri is desperate for some new faces to boost morale, add depth to the lineup, and take charge of the offense.
Of the two, Jonathan fills the biggest need for El Tri. The Villarreal player would be a perfect defensive midfield option and would have no problems transitioning to manager Juan Carlos Osorio's 4-3-3 formation. With Jonathan's excellent distribution and vision, El Tri would have a talented central midfielder that would complement an attacking of play.
As for Giovani, one can't help wonder what contributions he would have made for Mexico earlier this month in the two World Cup qualifiers. At the very least, the speedy and creative Gio would be an intriguing option off the bench for Osorio.
For example, in a 0-0 draw against Honduras on September 6th, Los Catrachos were able to absorb most of Mexico's attack while also creating some dangerous counters. On the other end of the field, El Tri was predictable going forward and was constantly suffocated by the opponent's defensive determination and marking.
As a starter or late substitute, Giovani would have been the perfect impact player to test Honduras with creative movement and accurate shots from distance. Instead, Queretaro's Angel Sepulveda failed to recreate his good performance from four days earlier against El Salvador, and was ineffective against Honduras as the right winger.
Injuries, of course, had a toll on Mexico and forced Osorio to mix up his usual starters. Even Jonathan might have been called up for the September games if not for injury.
Either way, whatever issues the brothers, the FMF, or Osorio have with one another must be resolved before the final round of CONCACAF's World Cup qualifying, which begins in November. Recent noteworthy omissions like Marco Fabian and Carlos Vela may also deserve a return, but those two will need more playing time and starts in Europe before they can sneak back onto Mexico's roster.
Whether Giovani or Jonathan, or both, will be called up for the upcoming friendlies in October remains to be seen. For now, fans will need to have their fingers crossed to see these guys in an El Tri jersey soon. If not, the same problems that hindered Mexico against Chile and Honduras are likely to remain.
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