Mexico national team and LA Galaxy star Jonathan dos Santos was part of a dramatic 2-1 victory over Canada in Thursday's Gold Cup semifinal match at Houston's NRG Stadium.
It was made all the more emotional for the midfielder after learning that his father passed away earlier that day. Yet the 31-year-old still started the match, and his teammates paid tribute, surrounding him in a team embrace and a point to the sky after Oberlin Pineda converted a penalty kick for the match's opening goal in first-half stoppage time.
Emotions again surfaced when Jona, who subbed off in the 61st minute, celebrated Hector Herrera's game-winning goal that came deep into second-half stoppage time.
Geraldo Francisco dos Santos Javier, better known as Zizinho, died at age 59 of complications after contracting COVID-19, according to a TUDN report. The father of both Jonathan and Giovani dos Santos – who spent 2015-18 playing for the Galaxy – was a notable footballer himself, with a pro career that included stops at Liga MX sides America, Leon, Necaxa and Monterrey.
The Galaxy showed their support for the entire dos Santos family with a statement (seen below) before the Gold Cup match.
El Tri manager Tata Martino, who used to lead Atlanta United, expressed his sympathies postgame. Despite hearing the news so close to kickoff, Jona still competed.
"Only he knows what he's feeling in these sad moments," Martino said. "After communicating with his mother, he decided to stay and play because, in his words and his mom's, it's what his dad would've wanted.
"Whatever decision he would've made in this circumstance, he has all of our support. It's one of those days where you analyze whether or not football is the most important thing in life or if it's family."
Mexico, after advancing past Canada, will now face the US men's national team in Sunday's final at Las Vegas's Allegiant Stadium (8:30 pm ET | FS1, Univision, and TUDN).