EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — They threw a fiesta in the New Meadowlands Stadium — minus the goals.
Before 77,507 fans, nearly every one of them dressed in green, Mexico and Ecuador drew 0-0 Friday night in the first professional sporting event at the spanking new facility. The festive atmosphere for the first of Mexico's three friendlies as it tunes up for next month's World Cup kickoff was not matched by the quality of soccer, with sloppy play on both sides.
The first of three games on Mexico's warmup series for the World Cup was controlled by El Tri in the second half, but in vain. The Mexicans play Senegal in Chicago on Monday — another sellout — and face Angola on Thursday in Houston.
They open the World Cup against host South Africa on June 11, when the crowd will be decidedly less friendly toward the Mexicans, and the quality of opposition should be stronger. None of the three opponents on this tour qualified for the World Cup.
Also in Group A are France and Uruguay. Mexico will need to show more spark on offense against those opponents than it did Friday night.
"This is a beautiful stadium," Aguirre said. "We played here a year ago next door (at Giants Stadium in the Gold Cup final). This is very motivating to play here."
The best scoring chance came in the 51st minute, when Jorge Torres' blistering shot was deflected over the net by Ecuador keeper Marcelo Elizaga.
Otherwise, it was rather ragged, although Mexico dominated play throughout the second half. A header by Javier Hernandez barely went wide in injury time, seconds before the final whistle.
The best show came outside the stadium that will house the NFL's Giants and Jets and is a centerpiece in the United States' bid for the 2018 or 2022 World Cup. Hours before kickoff, Mexican fans paraded through the parking lots wearing sombreros, panchos and masks, singing and playfully teasing the few Ecuador supporters they met.
Several tailgating fans offered a variety of delicacies to bystanders, from chorizo to churros to, well, Coronas. Once the party moved inside the stadium, there was little to celebrate.
Mexico's midfielders attempted several crosses that barely eluded teammates — but eluded them nonetheless. Its forwards, except for Hernandez, hesitated to shoot and managed only five shots at Elizaga. He had trouble only with Torres' try.
Aguirre could be happy with his defense, though, particularly with veteran Rafael Marquez still with Barcelona and first-string goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa on the bench.