Juan Carlos Osorio took over as Mexico manager last November and in his first 11 months, Giovani dos Santos had yet to play a match for El Tri. He continued to light it up for the LA Galaxy, and Mexico showed serious issues creating chances, but dos Santos stayed in Los Angeles while his national team looked for help elsewhere.
That finally changed this month. Osorio tabbed dos Santos to play in El Tri’s friendlies against New Zealand and Panama, dos Santos agreed to join up with the team and he gave them a much-needed jolt. Now there’s no doubt that dos Santos isn’t just back in the Mexico conversation. He’s firmly part of the team again and that isn’t going to change anytime soon.
It started with dos Santos converting from the spot against New Zealand.
And he was involved in El Tri’s second goal, before following it up with an assist against Panama.
Mexico scored three goals in their two friendlies and dos Santos was involved in all three. He did it while playing on the left, right and centrally. He popped up all over the pitch, helping keep the ball and unlock opposing defenses. He even put in work defensively, pressing to help Mexico win the ball back, which is huge to a manager like Osorio, who puts a heavy emphasis on team play and two-way players.
Osorio did take notice of dos Santos’ good play too. This wasn’t just a highlight-driven couple of showings that lacked what his manager wanted from him. Osorio joined fans in praising dos Santos after a week with the 27-year-old.
“It was very important to spend time with Giovani and to understand that he is a professional who is consolidated and committed to the day-to-day with training — the extra push to go back and win the ball. We all know about his technical ability,” Osorio said after the game on Tuesday. “We think it is for the good of Mexican football that Giovani is once against considered and committed to the national team.”
Osorio went even further than that, saying that dos Santos is an important part of the team.
Now Mexico will turn their attention to the United States and the crucial November 11 World Cup qualifier. With the way dos Santos played over the last week, he could find himself in the starting lineup for that match, which is quite the leap for a player who had been out of El Tri for nearly a year until last week.
It’s not that dos Santos is just back. He’s in the thick of El Tri again, ready to be a central piece for a team that could use him. And he’s not going anywhere.