Mexico to Break the Champagne Bottle on the New Meadowlands Stadium

The New Meadowlands Stadium is sold out for Mexico vs. Ecuador

Last summer, a Gold Cup Quarterfinal match became the fist sporting event staged at Cowboys Stadium. A crowd of over 80,000 were on hand to see Mexico defeat Haiti, 4-0. Mexico will have again have the honor of christening another new stadium as they begin the first of their four game tour before heading to Europe.

Tickets have sold out for the first porting event in the New Meadowlands Stadium, future home of the Giants and Jets, and many, many, other footie matches to come. This magnificent new structure will likely be the centerpiece for the US World Cup bid.

The New Meadowlands Stadium’s ability to be “soccer specific” was a priority throughout its construction process, with the goal being to host significant national and international soccer matches.

Done and done.

Sellouts are also expected next week in Chicago and Houston.

I read the Wall Street Journal that Dan linked to the site. I don’t think that these games serve as a recruiting tool as much as the article suggested. To me, it boils down to simplest of economic principles. Mexico’s games, both at the club and national team level, have been played and broadcast in the US for many, many years. The market was established long ago. We also don’t have to look too far into the past to remember that the only live footie on TV regularly was the Mexican variety. And today, the only footie league whose entire weekly program of games is broadcast on American television is the MFL. And most those are broadcast over the air. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the MFL as the 4th most popular league in the US when it comes to TV ratings.

This is a big market that has expressed a strong demand for these games. And FMF and SUM are more than willing to supply them. If the games manage to convince some young player to play for Mexico, then it’s a bonus (double bonus since FMF didn’t have to foot the bill for the player development).

Is Mexico’s upcoming slate of games is excessive? Usually I would say yes. And I would be the first to say so, quite loudly. I might even use ALL CAPS. But this time, it’s different.

It’s been a year since Javier Aguirre took over the national team. I am going to guess that most coaches would rather find their nucleus of players and install their system well before world cup qualifying starts. El Vasco didn’t have that luxury, but he did, however, have the good fortune of a Gold Cup, which he used to find the base of his team. Once he got his foundation in place, he was able to sprinkle in some of the Mexpat veterans for the 2nd leg of the hex. In other words, Aguirre has had his complete team for only 6 games (and only two of those with Rafa Marquez). So these games will allow Mexico to find its stride while that loyal market can send their team off to South Africa in style.

Mexico had a few games earlier this year to evaluate players doing well in the league and how they incorporated themselves on the Tri. A few new players emerged. The most notable, of course, was Javier Hernandez, who likely has won himself a spot on the Soccer City pitch on June 11.

For this next group of games, Aguirre wants Mexico to define its style of play. He will be adding the Mexpats as soon as they become available. For the game at New Meadowlands Stadium, he’ll have the services of Andres Guardado and Hector Moreno. Next week, he’ll be able to add Carlos Salcido, Maza Rodriguez, Ricardo Osorio, and Carlos Vela to the mix. Once in Europe, the rest of the Mexpats: Rafa Marquez, Giovani and Jonathan Dos Santos, and Guillermo Franco will all be folded in.

Critics love to point out that these are nothing more than money grabs. It is an exercise of economics, not sport. No other world cup teams will play this many games. Okay. Those are valid points.

Let me add another.

The elite teams don’t need that many warm up matches because that is what they use the group stage for. Mexico is good, but not that good. They are a team that has to come in to the tournament close to peaking in order to advance past the group stage. Slow starts might work for Italy, but it would doom Mexico. And if that means that they have to play a few extra games to find their rhythm, so be it.