NEW YORK — As it turns out, Jonathan dos Santos is his brother’s keeper.
The LA Galaxy midfielder ably filled in for his older brother when Giovani dos Santos went down with what the Galaxy hope is a minor hamstring injury in a 2-1 loss to New York City FC on Sunday at Yankee Stadium.
When Gio was subbed out at halftime with hamstring tightness, it was Jonathan who slotted in to his brother's more advanced position up the field in the second half, puling his team within a goal at the hour mark with a clever near-post finish with the outside of his right foot from a difficult angle.
“He changes the pace, he controlled the pace of the game for us,” Sebastian Lletget said of Jonathan dos Santos. “He’s aggressive and he knows when to be a bit more patient. I love playing with him since we started, so hopefully we can keep that going.”
Of course, Jonathan’s more natural position is as a No. 6, a role he admits he’s more comfortable in. But his ability to switch at halftime brought the Galaxy, who Schmid said played too narrowly in the first half, back in the game with chances to level late.
“I like both positions and I feel like when I play a little bit further back, I like to play by myself and control the game,” Jonathan dos Santos said. “At the end, I am very comfortable playing with Perry [Kitchen] as well as Servando [Carrasco], with Gio when he plays in front of me. In the end, the important thing is that the team is united, and that we are all on the same page. I feel comfortable playing in both positions.”
LA Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid was so impressed by the younger dos Santos — who completed 83.9 percent of his passes, 92 percent in the second half — that he might utilize him as a No. 10 again. You can check out the differences in Jonathan's heat maps by setting different time intervals below.
“We played him in Gio’s role and he actually played really well in the second half in that role,” Schmid said. “He’s active and he’s busy and he makes those final runs as well. That might be a role we have to look at him for as we move forward.”
Jonathan may have increased his national team stock at a perfect time with Mexican coach Juan Carlos Osorio yet to name his lineup for the upcoming friendly matches against Iceland and Croatia.
“I don’t know if I’ve been named to the roster yet but national team call-ups always bring me happiness,” he said. “Every time we go with the national team, there’s always a great group of players, young players, experienced players. Two important games await us with the national team and we hope everything turns out fine. We know we are preparing for an important event and we always want to give our best.”
The bigger question, though, is Gio’s heath and his inclusion on Mexico's roster later this month and for the World Cup this summer. Schmid said he “erred on the side of precaution” to take him off at halftime and that they “caught it pretty early.”
In the 24th minute, Gio got briefly tangled with NYCFC defender Alexander Callens at the top of the box as he chased after a ball over the top by Jorgen Skjelvik. He continued his run, but fell to the turf over goalkeeper Sean Johnson, who dove at the ball at the edge of his six-yard box.
“He got kicked a couple of times and on that play where he went in with Sean Johnson, he got nailed on that play and landed wrong,” Schmid said. “That’s what caused the problems.”