Mexico and Panama effectively canceled each other out in a scoreless draw on Tuesday night in Panama City, an unexciting result that still leaves both teams in strong positions in the final round of World Cup qualifying action in CONCACAF.
With Mexico playing a team that was fairly heavily rotated from their slugfest win over the United States in Columbus on Friday and traveling all the way to Panama over the weekend, it’s not surprising they weren’t quite as sharp and lethal as they normally look. They still had the fire to see off everything Panama threw at them, though, and they did it without too much trouble or stress throughout the match.
Panama should be happy with the performance despite failing to win at home — they were able to put together enough of an attacking threat to make Mexico feel some pressure, and actually looked like the better team for long stretches of the match. Most importantly, they avoided overcommitting and didn’t give a Mexico side set up to punish mistakes any great chances to do so. That’s a solid performance that gives Panama something good to build on, especially after their big win over Honduras last week.
Mexico: Guillermo Ochoa; Diego Reyes (Jesus Duenas 46’), Nestor Araujo, Hector Moreno, Miguel Layun; Rafa Marquez (Hector Herrera 74’), Jonathan dos Santos, Marco Fabian, Giovani dos Santos (Hirving Lozano 60’); Raul Jimenez, Javier Hernandez
Panama: Jaime Penedo; Amilcar Henriquez, Roman Torres, Fidel Escobar, Luis Ovalle; Gabriel Torres (Luis Tejada 79’), Eddie Barcenas (Tony Taylor 77’), Gabriel Gomez (Anibal Godoy 81’), Alberto Quintero; Adolfo Machado, Blas Perez
Three things we learned
Both of these teams were perfectly happy to take a draw.
With both Mexico and Panama coming off big and somewhat unexpected wins in the first round of the Hex, neither team particularly felt as though they had to win this game. A win would be great, but a draw would be perfectly fine. And while that’s certainly true, it would have been nice if at least one of these teams played as if they really wanted to win, you know?
Rafa Marquez is ageless.
Despite being 37 years old, despite having played over 600 career matches, and despite having just played 90 minutes in a brutal and difficult match in the U.S. a few days ago, Rafa Marquez just keeps chugging along and serving as a perfectly solid and useful player who can help in various roles. Against the USMNT he was a central defender, and against Panama he swapped from an anchoring midfield role to part of a midfield pivot to central defense and back again as the game evolved and progressed. The way he keeps marching on without seeming to age is impressive, and one has to wonder if we’ll keep seeing Marquez well into his 40s.
Jonathan dos Santos can be a big part of this Mexico team.
While his older brother Giovani tends to grab more headlines, you shouldn’t be shocked if Jonathan is the Dos Santos brother who is the more important player for Mexico in the near future. He’s not an incredibly flashy player, but he brings a calm presence deeper in midfield with a sense for creativity and underrated defensive work that Mexico’s other central midfielders don’t consistently bring. With a team developing in a way that needs that kind of player more and more, his role for El Tri should grow along with that need, and we should see him starting in big games for Mexico sooner rather than later because of it.