Mexico held by Ecuador

EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey, May 7 (Reuters) - Mexico's World Cup hopefuls did little to give their heaving sea of red and green-clad fans something to celebrate in the first match at the new Meadowlands Stadium on Friday as they played out an anti-climactic scoreless draw with Ecuador.

With Ecuador failing to qualify and Mexico experimenting in the countdown to the World Cup, it was perhaps unsurprising the match, the first at the new home of New York's two NFL teams, the Giants and the Jets, failed to reach any great heights.

Neither side created many clear scoring opportunities, with Manchester United-bound striker Javier Hernandez heavily marked after squandering an early chance, and they settled for a stalemate in front of almost 80,000 fans, who had turned the match into a noisy carnival with horns and whistles.

"I'm satisfied with the result," Mexico coach Javier Aguirre told a news conference. "Obviously you want to win, and when you have nearly 80,000 people there you want to score a goal, but I think we played well."

The match provided few real clues for Aguirre as he prepares to decide on which three players he has to drop for the World Cup, although he will have at least two more chances to run an eye over them with matches against Senegal in Chicago and Angola in Houston next week.

"This was a very useful game. I'm very happy with the 26 players we've got and obviously it will be a tough decision on which three players to leave at home," he said.

"We made a few mistakes, but we tried hard. This is our first step, we still have time."

Mexico will play hosts South Africa in the opening game of the World Cup in less than a month. France and Uruguay are also in Group A for the June 11-July 11 tournament.


With little action of note on the pitch, it was left to the 77,507 spectators to provide the entertainment at the $1.6 billion venue that has replaced the old Giants stadium and could potentially host the World Cup final if the United States wins their bid to stage the tournament in 2018 or 2022.

"The importance of New York in the world and in the U.S. and as a magnet can't be argued and so New York is an important part of the bid," U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati told Reuters before the match.

"This is a fantastic stadium but we have a lot of fantastic stadiums and a lot of options about where we can play."

The U.S. will hand over their bid document to the world governing body FIFA next week with the decision on the hosts expected in December.

He confirmed that Arizona had been retained on the list of possible sites despite the state facing criticism over the introduction of tough new immigration laws.

"We've got 18 cities that are part of the bid process, it's a long way between now and 2018 and 2022 and at this point I think it would be premature to make any decisions," he said.

Mexico Soccer's president Justino Compean also sidestepped the issue of Arizona's immigration laws and said he was now enthusiastically backing the U.S. bid after his own country pulled out of the race to stage the tournament.

"I hope the U.S. will be chosen. For us, it would be like playing at home," he said.