Fifteen years on, we take a look back at those who played a part in the Year of the Pumas, including their opponents.
No doubt about it … 2004 was a GREAT year to be a Pumas fan.
Fifteen years ago this summer, the Pumas turned 50 years old (founded on Aug. 2, 1954) and were preparing to defend the Liga MX championship they won by defeating the Chivas in a penalty kick shoot-out. Hugo Sánchez would go on to guide his Pumas to back-to-back titles, easing past Monterrey in the Apertura 2004 final to claim UNAM’s fifth Liga MX trophy.
Though those seasons are a decade-and-a-half in the rear-view mirror, many participants from those two finals are very familiar to today’s Liga MX fans. In this third and final part of a series, we’ll take a quick look at a few of these protagonists. In Part 1, we reviewed the Pumas’ Clausura 2004 championship and in Part II we remembered the Apertura 20114 title.
Unforgettable 2004 for Pumas
The Pumas won four titles in their 50th anniversary season under the direction of legendary UNAM and Real Madrid player Hugo Sánchez. The Mexico City-based club won the Clausura 2004 with a powerful offense and a hard-nosed defense, then scratched and clawed their way to a repeat with a scrappy defense and an opportunistic offense.
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Fifteen years after this magical year for the Pumas, many of the participants in the two Liga MX finals that year remain ever-present for today’s fans.
Among the stars for the Pumas in 2004 were:
– Captain and central defender Joaquín Beltrán: General manager of Querétaro Gallos Blancos from 2014 – 2017; turned down a job in the Pumas front office in April 2019
– Midfielder Leandro Augusto: assistant general manager and youth academy with UNAM
– Midfielder Jaime Lozano: Coach of Mexico’s U-22 team that finished third at the Toulon Tournament this summer
– Striker Bruno Marioni: Coached the Pumas during the just-finished Clausura 2019 season. He was fired after the season.
– Striker Kikín Fonseca: Now a studio analyst with Televisa Deportes, regularly covering Team Mexico matches
UNAM defeated Guadalajara for the Clausura 2014 title and several of those Chivas players remain front and center in Mexican soccer today:
– Goalie Oswaldo Sánchez: Now a color analyst for Televisa Deportes, regularly covering Team Mexico matches
– Defender Carlos Salcido still plays in Liga MX; at the age of 39, Salcido played for Veracruz last season
– Defender Francisco “Maza” Rodríguez still plays in Liga MX; at the age of 37, “Maza” played for Lobos BUAP last season
– Striker Francisco Palencia would later play for UNAM and win two titles with them (Clausura 2009 and Clausura 2011); he then coached the Pumas (2016-2017) and last season coached Lobos BUAP
UNAM defeated Monterrey for the Apertura 2014 and here are three names from that Rayados team that are still in the sports pages today:
– Monterrey coach Miguel Herrera is now coaching América, and he led the Aguilas to the Apertura 2018 championship and the Clausura 2019 Copa MX title.
– Striker Oribe Peralta was a sub with those Rayados and he made big headlines earlier this month when he was traded by América to Guadalajara
– Midfielder Jesús Arellano was in the news in May for all the wrong reasons. The one-time idol of Rayados fans was arrested on allegations of rape but was released from prison five days later after charges were dropped.