ARLINGTON — It wasn’t Mexico City or Guadalajara, but the new Cowboys Stadium gave the Mexican national soccer team such a home-field advantage that Haitian players were actually shaking in their boots.In front of a standing-room-only, sellout crowd of 82,252, Mexico knocked off Haiti 4-0 on Sunday to advance to the semifinals of the Gold Cup tournament.Following the match, Haitian national team coach Jairo Rios admitted his players were utterly intimidated by the environment."The biggest fear wasn’t Mexico, but the surroundings of the stadium," Rios said. "These players are used to playing in front of 500 to 2,000 people. Having 80,000 Mexicans supporting a team, there were players whose legs were shaking. That was the fear, the fear of the atmosphere, the stadium."Mexico advanced to face Costa Rica, which won the first game Sunday, 5-1 against Guadaloupe, meaning the minnows of the North and Central America and the Caribbean (CONCACAF) are no longer part of the regional championship tournament.On Saturday, the United States and Honduras advanced to Thursday’s other semifinal match in Chicago.Those four nations are traditionally the best in the region and currently lead CONCACAF in the final stage of World Cup 2010 qualifying.Mexico controlled play throughout its match with the difference epitomized in the attacking ability of Mexican forwards Miguel Sabah (two goals) and Giovani Dos Santos, who scored once.When Sabah or Dos Santos held the ball or even entered the attacking third of the field, they were calm and dangerous. Meanwhile, the Haitian attacking players rarely held possession deep in the Mexico defense. On the few occasions when Haiti did push forward, it was in desperation with no apparent plan of attack.Mexico opened the scoring in the 23rd minute off a nearly botched penalty kick.Haiti’s Frantz Bertin deflected a shot with his hand in the penalty area to set up the penalty kick.Mexico’s Israel Castro took a slow approach with a small stutter that didn’t fool Haitian goalkeeper Jean Dominique Zephirin, who parried the initial shot. However, Sabah charged the deflection and one-timed it home before Zephirin could regain his position.Dos Santos gave Mexico the 2-0 lead with a deft finish in the 42nd minute.Mexico scored its third goal in the second half off a corner-kick header from Sabah. Pablo Barrera closed out the scoring with a brilliant volley off a corner kick in the 83rd minute.Costa Rica 5, Guadaloupe 1The early arrivals at the stadium were rewarded handsomely as Costa Rica’s Celso Borges scored a thrilling bicycle kick goal a mere three minutes into the match.Costa Rica dictated play for most of the match with a 3-0 lead before the Gwada Boys pulled one back in the 64th minute.Alvaro Saborio picked up his second goal of the game in the 72nd minute to give Costa Rica the 4-1 lead.
Tobias Xavier Lopez, 817-390-7760