Gio Dos Santos' championship-clinching goal of the 2011 Gold Cup was not only the 80th and final goal of the tournament, it was also the best.
Everything about it was both filthy and gorgeous at the same time. The way he teased Tim Howard and glided across the box with the ball on a string was only the beginning. His perfectly placed chip over the spiked hair of Eric Lichaj was within inches of being rejected by either his head or the crossbar. Instead, it smacked the net and gave Mexico the Gold Cup title. Ronaldinho would have been proud.
Dos Santos' goal shot to the top of my list. Below, in my humble opinion, is a list of the top 5 greatest strikes of the 2011 Gold Cup:
1. Gio Dos Santos (MEX); Final - Mexico 4, U.S. 2
2. Andres Guardado (MEX); Group stage - Mexico 4, Costa Rica 1
Surprise! Another goal by Mexico. "El Tri" scored 22 of the 80 goals of the tournament -- more than twice the amount of the runner-up Americans (9). This was one of the best.
3. Jozy Altidore (USA); Group stage - U.S. 1, Guadeloupe 0
Before his injury in the next match, Altidore had U.S. fans ecstatic with this long-range bullet -- a rarity for the brawny American.
4. Omar Davey (JAM); Group stage - Jamaica 4, Grenada 0
Davey's strike was stunning, but the back-heeled assist from teammate Je-Vaughn Watson helped bump this one into the Top 5 (1:45 into clip).
5. Jose del Aguila (GUA); Group stage - Guatemala 4, Grenada 0
Whenever a player shoots a ball with the outside of his foot, he's hoping it bends around the keeper's reach and curls into the net at the last possible moment. It helps if the ball scrapes some paint off the post on the way in.