Mexico ratings: Jimenez 9/10, Alvarez 8/10 in dominant El Tri win
Thanks to two goals and an assist from Raul Jimenez, Mexico walked away from Friday night's away game against Panama with a 3-0 CONCACAF Nations League victory. With three wins in three group stage games -- and one game left against Bermuda next week -- El Tri has already officially earned a spot in the semifinal stage of the tournament.
Once again, Jimenez is showcasing why he can be Mexico's starting striker. Although Javier Hernandez remains as the all-time leading goalscorer for the national team, there's no denying that Jimenez is in better form.
Looking elsewhere, the squad looked confident throughout the match with short and decisive passes that constantly frustrated their CONCACAF rivals. Starters like Rodolfo Pizarro, Roberto Alvarado and Jimenez especially stood out with their dynamic movement and distribution in the frontline.
With a number of European-based players being given a break by manager Gerardo "Tata" Martino this month, the latest win also says plenty about the depth that Mexico now has.
When Panama decided to become more physical, Mexico had a difficult time winning duels and holding onto the ball. Other CONCACAF teams should take notice of the aggressive style that threw Mexico off its game.
Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa also finished with more work on his plate than anticipated. Despite the fact that the visitors were the deserved winners, Panama was unlucky to not have at least one goal on Friday.
Manager rating (out of 10)
9 -- Mexico's ever-expanding roster is clearly buying into Martino's favored 4-3-3 formation. Whether it be through a fresh face or a seasoned veteran, it has been impressive to see the immediate chemistry and cohesion that the manager has been able to maintain with his squad.
Player ratings (1-10, with 10 the best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Guillermo Ochoa, 8 -- Ochoa was surprisingly active. The goalkeeper, who needed to make a highlight-worthy save within the first few minutes, was a vital shot-stopper that stepped up several times in net. As captain, he also helped calm the backline when needed.
DF Luis Rodriguez, 6 -- Rodriguez had a couple of accurate crosses, a small handful of tackles and not much else. As one of the more experienced options in the roster, the right-back left much to be desired.
DF Cesar Montes, 6 -- A quiet evening for the central defender that let Hector Moreno do more of the work in the backline. That said, Montes should be given credit for his eye-catching pass from distance that helped provide a late penalty for the third goal.
DF Hector Moreno, 7 -- Moreno looked like a leader through his control of the defense and his constant orders to his teammates. Even though he is quickly becoming one of the older players in the roster, the 31-year-old seemed to turn back the clock with his reliable performance on Friday.
DF Jesus Gallardo, 5 -- Is Gallardo's momentum slowing down? Once a stalwart for club and country, the Monterrey fullback has shown numerous inconsistencies in recent months. Against Panama, he was an occasional weak-link in defense.
MF Edson Alvarez, 8 -- Alvarez not only took charge as a fulcrum in the starting XI, but also provided the second goal of the game. There's no doubt that the young Ajax player is Mexico's best defensive midfielder.
MF Carlos Rodriguez, 7 -- It took some time for Rodriguez to gradually find his rhythm in the match. After dealing with a physical Panamanian midfield, the 22-year-old eventually found ways to evade the opposition and provide crucial distribution going forward.
MF Erick Gutierrez, 7 -- Similar to Rodriguez, Gutierrez had difficulties with Panama's aggressive approach but also found a way to make his mark in the second half. When he wasn't being fouled, the PSV player helped combine with the attack that had a strong finish in the win.
FW Roberto Alvarado, 7 -- The winger connected well with the frontline and also provided the assist for the first goal. A commendable evening for the young Cruz Azul player that still has plenty to prove at the national team level.
FW Raul Jimenez, 9 -- Two goals and an assist, what more could you ask of Jimenez? The striker was nothing short of brilliant as the focal point in the attack.
FW Rodolfo Pizarro, 7 -- Pizarro had an exciting start, but also began to run out of energy after halftime. Although the creative winger should be applauded for his role in the build-up of chances in the final third and the first goal, he also occasionally struggled when Panama's defenders were more forceful and assertive.
FW Uriel Antuna, 7 -- Substituted in for Alvarado during the 70th minute. The LA Galaxy player hit the ground running with threatening runs and passes immediately after stepping onto the field. Antuna also won the penalty for Mexico's final goal.
FW Orbelin Pineda, N/A -- Substituted in for Pizarro during the 79th minute.
FW Jose Juan Macias, N/A -- Substituted in for Jimenez during the 88th minute.