Mexican soccer fans pass the test at Los Angeles

Mexico fans wave flags before an international friendly between Mexico and Nigeria at the Coliseum on Saturday. Mexico won the match 4-0. (Frederic J. Brown / AFP via Getty Images)

No homophobic chant as more than 53,000 fans watch Mexico’s National Team dominate at the LA Coliseum.

Nigerian goalkeeper Stanley Nwabili touched the ball for the first time in the seventh minute of Saturday’s friendly with Mexico at the Coliseum.

Watching from the sidelines, Gerardo Torrado, sporting director for Mexico’s national team program, listened nervously for what would come next from the crowd of 53,258.

Much to his relief what he heard was the sound of silence, not the anti-gay chant that has, for years, marked the goal kicks of Mexico’s opponents.

Minutes earlier he had heard the sound of cheers, with Mexico getting goals from Hector Herrera and Rogelio Funes Mori in the first four minutes of a comfortable 4-0 win over a young, inexperienced and overmatched Nigeria in Mexico’s final preparation for Saturday’s CONCACAF Gold Cup opener.

Herrera and Galaxy captain Jonathan dos Santos added goals in the second half and Galaxy midfielder Efraín Álvarez, who grew up just seven miles from the Coliseum, made his second appearance for Mexico, playing the final 24 minutes off the bench in a game Mexico dominated.

El Tri controlled the ball for nearly two-thirds of the game, outshot Nigeria 16-3 and put 11 shots on goal while Mexican keeper Alfredo Talavera, the likely Gold Cup starter, didn’t need to make a save to pick up the shutout, his second in three games this year.

Taken together, it was a good night for a Mexican federation that really needed one.

Last month Mexico lost the first CONCACAF Nations League final to the U.S. in a game that ended embarrassingly for El Tri, with the officials pausing the game because of the chant and fans throwing debris on the field, injuring U.S. attacker Gio Reyna. Less than two weeks later FIFA, in an effort to stop the offensive chant, ordered Mexico to play its first two home World Cup qualifiers this fall in empty stadiums.

The federation quickly lined up behind the sanctions.

More than 53,000 fans attended an international friendly soccer match between Mexico and Nigeria.
More than 53,000 fans attended an international friendly soccer match between Mexico and Nigeria at the Coliseum on Saturday. (Kevin Baxter / Los Angeles Times)

“The federation strongly rejects the homophobic chant,” Torrado, speaking in Spanish, said before Saturday’s game. “I would like to ask the fans if they believe this chant, this homophobic chant, wins us anything. I would like to show them that we lose a lot.”

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