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Dos Santos Rising Up to Meet Expectations

In an article leading up to the massive USA-Mexico match, the New York Times' Jere Longman wondered what many fans south of the border have: if "young forward Giovani dos Santos will again be considered the future of Mexican soccer"? Having disappointed at different points in his still young career, but recently reignited wonder boy buzz after his performance in the 2009 Gold Cup, Longman correctly predicted that "perhaps this time, the pedestal will not be as rickety as it is elevating."

Once dubbed "the next Ronaldinho," in part because of his Brazilian heritage but also because of his impressive performance in helping Mexico win the Under-17 World Cup in 2005, it's not surprising that he couldn't immediately live up to the namesake. "Depending on who tells the story, the teenager's chest puffed too broadly with self-satisfaction or his slim shoulders could not bear the weight of expectation," writes Longman, but either way "he quickly tumbled" from a spot in the Barcelona youth system to "a career depreciation that The Guardian ... called a 'humiliating descent' for a player once considered a rising international star."

But in a few short months since his humbling transfer to second division English club Ipswich Town in March, Dos Santos "has since turned 20 ... and perhaps he has shed his callowness with his teenage years." In helping Mexico defeat the U.S. on its own soil for the first time in a decade, and earning tournament MVP honors in the process, Dos Santos "displayed enormous possibility" and "might have brought an awakening" to Mexican soccer, suggested Longman.

Veteran Mexican defender Rafael Marquez is also a believer, declaring that "Giovani grew in the Gold Cup" and "achieved a level of responsibility that he didn't before." Added Marquez, "He proved the quality of player he is, the Giovani we need for the national team."

 

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