No Carlos Vela and Chicharito? No problem for El Tri
Even without a number of absent big stars, Mexico stepped up on Wednesday night with an impressive 3-1 win over Venezuela.
Goals from Roberto Alvarado, Rodolfo Pizarro and Andres Guardado helped El Tri take charge and entertain the 50,000+ in attendance at Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium. With three victories in three games for Mexico in 2019, new manager Gerardo "Tata" Martino and his men will now have plenty of confidence ahead of their next friendly this Sunday against Ecuador.
Ignore the scoreline and goals for just a second. What truly mattered on Wednesday was the way in which Mexico played. The attack looked dynamic, the full-backs were dangerous with their overlapping runs and the midfield helped maintain most of the possession. It's early days in the tenure of Martino, but their appears to be a clear attack-minded philosophy that is already taking shape through his 4-3-3 formation. When Mexico did eventually step back and defend in the final stages of the match, the roster also proved to be organized and structured.
The one true blemish: Edson Alvarez's injury. Following a knock in the 1st half, the grimacing 21-year-old was substituted in the 31st minute. At time of writing, there is no official report regarding the severity of his injury or whether he'll be ready in time for the Gold Cup.
Manager rating (out of 10)
9 -- Martino's tactics played out beautifully on Wednesday. With his full-backs pushing high up the field, the Mexican roster was consistently a threat for a majority of the game. Younger and more inexperienced options such as Uriel Antuna, Carlos Rodriguez and Alvarado also had no issues with thriving in his system.
Player ratings (1-10, with 10 the best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Jonathan Orozco, 6 -- He had two to three good saves, but there was a certain uneasiness about the 33-year-old goalkeeper. In a system that has plenty of build-up from the back, Orozco regularly looked uncomfortable whenever the ball was passed back to him.
DF Fernando Navarro, 8 -- Not bad for a debut. The high-pressing right-back was highly involved in El Tri's playmaking and had a hand in the creation of the first goal. An active performance from the Leon player that stood out with his abundance of crosses.
DF Diego Reyes, 6 -- The usual hit and miss showing from Reyes. While he should be given credit for his goal-line clearance and handful of tackles, the lanky defender's evening was also highlighted by a few mistakes near the heart of the back-line.
DF Nestor Araujo, 7 -- Time and time again, Araujo has looked like a rock in Mexico's defense. The Celta Vigo player was aggressive and impactful as a proactive member of the back-line.
DF Jesus Gallardo, 8 -- Another full-back revelation for El Tri. Gallardo glided with ease past Venezuelan defenders who failed to stifle his overlapping runs. The Monterrey player eventually finished the game with an assist for the second goal.
MF Edson Alvarez, N/A -- Alvarez had a noteworthy and commanding performance that was unfortunately cut short. A knee injury forced a substitution out in the first half.
MF Erick Gutierrez, 6 -- Despite his knack for good passing, Gutierrez at times looked lost and forgotten in Mexico's energetic midfield. Not much to say about the promising PSV player.
MF Carlos Rodriguez, 8 -- It's still slightly surprising to think that the confident starter recently made his national team debut in March. With a number of perfectly accurate lofted passes --- and his immense amount of coverage in the midfield --- Rodriguez was a joy to watch.
FW Roberto Alvarado, 7 -- Alvarado was at the right place at the right time for the first goal and was also a headache for Venezuela's defense. Although he isn't at the level of a Hirving Lozano or Vela, Alvarado remains a daunting player for any potential Gold Cup opponent.
FW Raul Jimenez, 7 -- All that was missing was a goal or assist for the captain who did plenty of dirty work. Ever the industrious No. 9, Jimenez dropped back and helped connect Mexico's midfield and wingers.
FW Rodolfo Pizarro, 9 -- Few players, if any, are more eager to win over Martino like Pizarro. There was a clear hunger and drive from the creative winger/midfielder that wasn't afraid to get scrappy when needed. Pizarro earned an assist for Mexico's first goal and then scored one of his own in the second half.
DF Hector Moreno, 7 -- Substituted on for Alvarez during the 31st minute. A no-nonsense performance from the reliable veteran. Moreno's composure will be much-needed this summer.
MF Orbelin Pineda, 7 -- Substituted on for Pizarro during the 55th minute. Once Mexico took a 2-1 lead, Pineda helped organize the midfield that was tasked with more defensive work in their own half.
MF Andres Guardado, 8 -- Substituted on for Gutierrez during the 68th minute. It took Guardado less than 10 minutes to find the back of the net. The 32-year-old was a game-changer as a conductor of distribution and directions in the center of Mexico's XI.
FW Uriel Antuna, 7 -- Substituted on for Alvarado during the 68th minute. Keen on making a name for himself with El Tri, the 21-year-old LA Galaxy player helped create dangerous attacking plays in his limited time down the right flank. Despite his assist, it's still up in the air whether he'll attend the Gold Cup or not.
DF Jorge Sanchez, 7 -- Substituted on for Navarro during the 68th minute. A decent performance as Mexico's right-back when Martino had the squad sit deeper in the final stages of Wednesday night's win.
FW Alexis Vega, N/A -- Substituted on for Jimenez during the 82nd minute.