Even with Javier Aguirre sitting in the stands, Mexico didn’t have any problems beating Haiti.
Now Mexico hopes to have its embattled coach back on the bench for a run at another Gold Cup crown.
Miguel Sabah scored two goals and Mexico advanced to the CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals without the suspended Aguirre, defeating Haiti 4-0 Sunday night.
Aguirre was serving the second of a three-game suspension for his altercation with Panama’s Ricardo Phillips during group play on July 9.
“The players do need their coach on the bench, in the locker room,” Aguirre said. “It’s not ideal and I hope it doesn’t happen again.”
Aguirre will also miss Mexico’s semifinal Thursday against Costa Rica, which beat Guadeloupe 5-1 in another quarterfinal Sunday at the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium.
The two games marked the first sporting events played in the $1.15 billion facility that opened in June.
The United States, two-time defending champs, take on Honduras in the other semifinal Thursday. Both matches will be played in Chicago.
Giovani Dos Santos had a goal and two assists for Mexico (3-0-1), which has won the Gold Cup four times since its inception in 1991.
“We haven’t accomplished anything yet,” Aguirre said. “Our goal is to win the Gold Cup.”
Mario Carrillo filled in on the sideline as Aguirre watched from the crowd.
With about 10 minutes left against Panama, Aguirre raised his leg and seemed to kick Phillips as he dribbled near the sideline.
After a linesman stopped play, Phillips shoved Aguirre. Players converged in the area and several got into shoving matches.
CONCACAF general secretary Chuck Blazer called the incident an “aberration,” but suspended Aguirre for three games and fined the Mexican Football Federation $25,000.
The earliest he can return would be for the Gold Cup final July 26.
“The game we played is what we worked on all week with Aguirre,” Sabah said. “Sure there is a difference. Aguirre has more character. Carrillo is a more calmer force on the bench.”
Mexico scored after Haiti defender Frantz Bertin was called for a hand ball in the goalie’s box off Sabah’s shot.
Haiti goalkeeper Jean Dominique Zephirin stopped Israel Castro’s penalty kick. Sabah, however, swooped in and scored off the rebound in the 23rd minute.
Dos Santos made it 2-0 in the 42nd minute when he juked Haiti’s Mones Cherry and fired it in the air past a diving Zephirin.
Haiti (1-2-1) qualified only after Cuba withdrew before the start of the Gold Cup. It won a draw over Trinidad & Tobago for the final team spot.
Zephirin made several quality saves in the opening minutes to keep Haiti close.
He kicked away a shot by Alberto Medina in the 13th minute, then made a diving stop on Carlos Esquivel’s ball three minutes later to keep it scoreless.
Mexico, which outshot Haiti 13-3 in the first half, pulled away before intermission and scored twice again in the second half.
Sabah, who has a team-leading four goals in the Gold Cup, scored on a header off a corner kick in the 62nd minute.
Sabah was a controversial choice for the Mexican national team. He has never played with a European team and was mainly a reserve for Chivas Guadalajara, a high-profile club team in Mexico.
“My call-up came with a lot of criticism,” Sabah said. “You only have one opportunity.”
Dos Santos picked up his second assist, feeding Pablo Barrera in the 83rd minute as the raucous Mexican faithful dropped confetti from the upper deck one last time.
There was an announced crowd of 82,252, including hundreds waving Mexican flags when their team took the field for warmups.
There were also thousands of spectators standing on the concourses behind the first three levels of seats.
Cowboys Stadium, which has hosted concerts by George Strait and the Jonas Brothers, was a little more than half full at the start of the Guadeloupe-Costa Rica match. The stadium began to fill up with fans of Mexico toward the end of the opener.
“These players are used to playing with 500 to 2,000 people,” Haiti coach Jairo Rios said. “And having 80,000 Mexico fans, there were players whose legs were shaking. That was the fear, the fear of the atmosphere of the stadium.”
NOTES: According to CONCACAF, this was a record attendance for a soccer game in Texas. Barcelona and Club America played in front of 70,550 at Reliant Stadium in Houston.