It was Mexican territory there as nearly 50,000 jubilant fans, most wearing Mexico's green, white and red, converged on the stadium to watch a sold-out exhibition game between Mexico and Ecuador.
"We know this is the largest attendance for a Mexican national team in Oakland," said Ben Ramirez Spencer, a spokesman for Soccer United Marketing, which co-sponsored Wednesday's game.
That meant there were about 50,000 happy fans there Mexico won the game 4-2.
But the game was only half the fun, in the hours leading up to the 8:09 p.m. kick, people danced in the parking lot, drank beer and ate cevichi and carne asada to banda and mariachi music.
"You can hear the music a mile away," said Sonia Rodriguez of San Francisco during the Futbol Fiesta, a pre-game parking lot party. "People
were even celebrating on the freeway (driving here)," added Rodriguez, who had flags of Mexico painted on both cheeks.
If the fan's clothing was a clue, the crowd was about 95 percent in Mexico's corner.
But while team allegiance was unwavering, it was a friendly rivalry with fans for both teams mixing in the parking lot over carne asada and Coronas before the game.
"When we (Latinos) get together we have a good time," said Laura Arechiga, 20, of San Francisco. "It doesn't matter where you are from ...
Ximena Haro, 17, and Carla Jacome, 18, both of Concord, are from Ecuador and showed their spirit by wearing yellow soccer jerseys and painting their fingernails yellow. The team's colors are yellow, blue and red the color of Ecuador's flag.
But their allegiance to Ecuador didn't stop them from hanging out with Mexico fans Jorge Vidauri of Sacramento and Daniel Marquez of Lodi.
"Girls from Ecuador like Mexicans," Vidauri said, smiling.
The soccer craze in Oakland is certainly not new. But fans have become increasingly crazed for Mexico since coach Hugo Sanchez took the reins recently, game organizers said. Wednesday was his fourth game as coach.
"For Mexicans, it's like having Michael Jordan coach their team,"said Ramirez Spencer. "The fact that they have (as coach) their biggest star and their greatest player in their nation's history just adds to the passion and the fanaticism they feel toward the national team."
Sanchez played 12 seasons in the Spanish Primera Division, and has the second highest number of goals in the history of that league. He played for the Mexico national team for 17 years and participated in the World Cups of 1978, 1986 and 1994.
After winning two championships as head coach of the club UNAM Pumas and briefly with Necaxa, Sanchez was named head coach of the Mexican national team, which is aiming to reach the World Cup 2010, according to an Internet biography. Organizers said the game had been sold out since March 15 and set two attendance records for Bay Area soccer. Wednesday's match set an attendance record for soccer at the Oakland Coliseum by beating the previous mark of 36,240 set on Feb. 7, 1998, when Mexico beat Honduras 2-0 in the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
The match also broke a Mexican National Team match in the Bay Area, by surpassing the previous mark of 44,729 set Jan. 25, 2006, in a match between Mexico and Norway at Monster Park in San Francisco, organizers said.
It's not surprising that there was a good showing at the game Latinos make up 22 percent of Bay Area residents, according to 2005 U.S. Census data.
As the sun set over the Coliseum and the stands filled to capacity, the sounds of trumpets long plastic things that look like stretched oil funnels filled the stands. Conversation was impossible. As the 8:09 p.m. kick neared, fans did the classic stadium "wave," blew their trumpets, stomped their feet and waved their Mexican flags.
It was as if nothing could match that excitement. That was until 8:11 p.m. when Mexico scored and the crowd went wild. But even those wearing yellow seemed to have a good time in the name of soccer.