Giovani Dos Santos is preparing to participate in his third World Cup at the age of 29. However, this World Cup presents a unique set of challenges for Dos Santos after a difficult and frustrating year with his club team, the LA Galaxy, and missing much of the 2018 season due to injury.
“I think the dream, the desire to be in a World Cup never changes,” said Dos Santos. “Every World Cup is different. The only thing that changes is experience. To have played in two World Cups is an advantage for me. But the dream, the desire and the love for your country will never change.”
In his two previous World Cups, Dos Santos played a key role for the Mexican national team and participated in every match Mexico played for both the 2010 and 2014 tournaments.
For the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, 21-year-old Dos Santos played every minute of every match Mexico played in the tournament as a right midfielder. The squad made it to the Round of 16, where they fell to Argentina by a score of 3-1. Dos Santos did not notch a goal or assist in the tournament, but he was able to secure valuable experience early in his career.
His role changed for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, where he played as a forward rather than an outside midfielder. His biggest contribution for Mexico in the tournament was opening the scoring against Netherlands in the Round of 16. Mexico held that lead until the 88th minute, when Netherlands stole the match with two goals in the dying moments of the game.
The following year, Dos Santos signed with the LA Galaxy in July 2015 as one of the club’s three designated players, along with Robbie Keane and Steven Gerrard. In his first full season with the side in 2016, he was the team’s leading goal scorer with 13 goals in 28 appearances in the MLS regular season.
Struggles began to set in for Dos Santos, as his productivity made a sharp decline from one year to the next. In the 2017 season, he scored only five goals in the 25 games he took part in. He, and the rest of his team, became visibly frustrated as the Galaxy had their worst season in team history.
Dos Santos has caught the injury bug this year, causing him to miss six games due to nagging hamstring issues. He has made six appearances in the 2018 MLS season with two goals and one assist. He has only played one full Galaxy match in 2018, the May 5th match in Houston.
The World Cup comes at the perfect time for Dos Santos, giving him a chance to prove himself once more on the world stage. Success in such an important arena could help give him that spark that has been missing from his play since the 2016 season with the Galaxy.
As additional inspiration for him heading into the 2018 World Cup is his brother,Jonathan Dos Santos, who made his first World Cup roster for Mexico. Playing alongside his brother is something that Giovani Dos Santos does regularly at the club level, but this World Cup will be their first opportunity to play together on this stage.
“It’s a dream come true for both of us,” Dos Santos said. “It’s been a lot of hard work and we’ve dreamt about this. Now that we’ve achieved it, we are going to enjoy it with a lot of responsibility and hopefully it will be a great World Cup for both of us.”
The Mexican national team will take on reigning World Cup Champion Germany on Sunday at 11 a.m. ET, followed by their other group matchups on Saturday against South Korea and Wednesday, June 27th, against Sweden.