Dream decade for Pachuca began with 1999 title

Pachuca captain Alberto Rodriguez holds the trophy after the Tuzos defeated the Tigres to win the Liga MX Invierno 2001 title. AFP PHOTO/Omar TORRES / AFP / Omar TORRES (Photo credit should read OMAR TORRES/AFP/Getty Images)
Pachuca captain Alberto Rodriguez holds the trophy after the Tuzos defeated the Tigres to win the Liga MX Invierno 2001 title. AFP PHOTO/Omar TORRES / AFP / Omar TORRES (Photo credit should read OMAR TORRES/AFP/Getty Images) /

The Tuzos collected five league titles and six international trophies in the decade after winning promotion to Liga MX in 1998. This is Part I of a two-part feature.

Club de Fútbol Pachuca is one of the oldest football clubs in the Americas, but its Golden Age did not begin until almost 100 years after its foundation. Spanning a 12-year period from 1998 to 2010, the Tuzos won 10 major trophies, including five Liga MX titles.

In December 1892, a professional soccer team – Club de Fútbol Pachuca – was founded by Cornish miners residing in Hidalgo. Some histories date the foundation of the club to 1901, but either way the Tuzos are one of the oldest football clubs in the Americas.

The Tuzos would go on to win three amateur titles by 1920, but financial issues saw the team go dormant until the professional era emerged in the 1950s. Pachuca finally made its way into first division in 1967, lasting six years before demotion in 1973. The Tuzos climbed back to Liga MX twice briefly in the early 1990s, getting sent back down each time after only one season in first division.

Pachuca puts down roots in first division

The Tuzos won promotion again in 1998, then barely avoided relegation a year later under coach Javier “El Vasco” Aguirre by fashioning a positive stretch run to close out the Verano 1999 season.

Feeling entrenched in Liga MX, the Tuzos opened the Invierno 1999 with revived hopes and made the playoffs as the No. 7 seed. Pachuca proceeded to confound the pundits, holding off a late Toluca comeback in the quarters to defeat the No. 2 seeded Diablos Rojos, before outplaying No. 1 Atlas to reach the Finals against Cruz Azul.

Pachuca glory years
Alejandro Glaría, center, celebrates with teammates after scoring for the Tuzos in the Invierno 1999 final vs Cruz Azul. Photo: Aubrey Washington /Allsport /

After a thrilling 2-2 first-leg tie in Estadio Hidalgo, the Gran Final switched stages to Estadio Azteca. Ninety minutes of tedious play followed and the match went into overtime. Anybody who ran to the bathroom to take advantage of the interim between regulation and extra time probably missed Alejandro Glaría’s game-winner.

Just 80 seconds into overtime, Marcelo Garcés whipped a low cross into the box from the right flank. The ball zipped behind the defense and found Glaría breaking free at the back post. The pass was so firm that the Argentine striker only had time to thrust his midsection at the ball, which ricocheted off right thigh and bounded into the net for Pachuca’s first Liga MX title.

Glaría (who scored all three Tuzos goals in the Finals) and Aguirre are forever legends in the hearts and minds of Pachuca fans. It would be two years until the next group of Tuzos heroes appeared. Men like goalie Miguel Calero and defender Alberto Rodríguez won glory by leading Pachuca to its second Liga MX title in its centennial year.

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New coach, another title

In the summer of 2001, Alfredo Tena took over for “El Vasco” who had taken the reins of El Tri en route to the 2002 World Cup. Tena brought in several reinforcements (most notably, striker Walter Silvani and bulldog midfielder Jaime Correa) to a team that had reached the Verano 2001 final, losing 4-3 on aggregate to Santos Laguna.

The Tuzos hit the Invierno 2001 playoffs as the No. 3 seed and slipped past No. 6 Atlante before routing No. 2 Toluca 5-3 in the semifinals as Silvani came up big in the playoffs. The Argentine poacher scored 5 postseason goals, including one in each of the Finals games to lead Pachuca to a 3-1 aggregate victory over Ricardo Ferretti’s top-seeded Tigres. Captain Alberto Rodríguez hoisted the trophy, the perfect 100th anniversary present.

Two current Liga MX coaches were on that 2001 roster: midfielder Alfonso Sosa (Atlético San Luis) and Gabriel Caballero (Cd. Juárez). Caballero remains the franchise’s all-time leading scorer and was a member of all five Tuzos title-winning teams during this Golden Era.

Pachuca collects more hardware

The bonanza continued the next year as Tena and the Tuzos won the 2002 Concacaf Champions Cup by defeating Morelia 1-0 with Silvani scoring the winner in minute 48.

Pachuca claimed its third Liga MX title after the Apertura 2003 season, this time with Víctor Manuel Vucetich in charge. Goalie Miguel Calero backstopped a tough defense that earned the Tuzos a No. 3 seed, and then the offense caught fire in the playoffs.

Pachuca glory years
Defender Francisco Gabriel de Anda and goalkeeper Miguel Calero celebrate after Pachuca won the Apertura 2003 championship against the Tigres. AFP PHOTO: ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images) /

Pachuca scored 9 goals in the playoffs, and again defeated the No. 1 seed Tigres in a Final, jumping out to a 3-1 lead in the first leg at home in Estadio Hidalgo. Calero made 5 big saves in the second leg, blanking the high-powered Tigres until a late goal in added time, allowing the Tuzos to hold on for their third Liga MX title in four years.

The Pachuca faithful would have to wait nearly three more years for their next piece of silver.

In Part II, the new-look Tuzos hoist another Liga MX trophy after winning the Clausura 2006, led by veterans Calero and Caballero, with the help of new playmaker Richard Núñez and striker Juan Carlos Cacho.