Pachuca collected five league titles and six international trophies in the decade after winning promotion to Liga MX in 1998. This is Part II of a two-part series recounting the club’s Dream Decade.
Pachuca, Mexico’s oldest soccer club, did not win its first Liga MX title until its 98th year of existence. Then the Tuzos won two more league titles and a Concacaf Champions Cup Tuzos, but they were just getting started.
José Luis Trejo was appointed coach of the Tuzos in summer 2005. In 2001, Trejo led Cruz Azul to the finals of the Copa Libertadores and guided the Jaguares de Chiapas to an undefeated Clausura 2004 season but had not found ultimate success.
In his second season after taking over in Pachuca, Trejo became the fourth consecutive Tuzos coach to win a title. The Tuzos entered the Clausura 2006 playoffs as the No. 1 seed, but were forced to battle tooth-and-nail to claim the crown.
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Playmaker Richard Núñez sparked the offense throughout the playoff run, scoring 5 of the team’s 8 goals. No. 8 Morelia fell in the first round 4-3, then the No. 7 Chivas battled Pachuca to a 3-3 draw but the Tuzos advanced to the Final as the higher seed. In the Final, Pachuca played 180 minutes of flawless defense against a hard-nosed but low-scoring San Luis team and won the title 1-0 thanks to a late second-leg penalty kick from Núñez.
For the first time, Pachuca won a Liga MX title on its home turf and Tuzos Nation got to see the trophy presentation ceremony in the cozy confines of Estadio Hidalgo.
Tuzos enjoy magical 2007
Seven months later, Enrique “Ojitos” Meza guided the Tuzos to the 2006 South American Cup title, with Cristian “Chaco” Giménez thumping home the winning goal in minute 73 to give Pachuca a 3-2 aggregate win over Chile’s Colo Colo in Santiago’s Estadio Nacional.
En route to the final, the Tuzos defeated Colombia’s Deportes Tolima 6-3, Argentina’s Lanus 5-2 and Brazil’s Atletico Paranaense 5-1. “El Chaco” led the team with 5 goals, while Cacho poured in 4 more.
The Tuzos continued their title-winning ways the very next semester, winning their first Concacaf Champions Cup in April 2007 by defeating the Chivas in a thrilling penalty kick shoot-out. The two Mexican teams defeated MLS teams to reach the Final (Pachuca edged the Houston Dynami 5-4, while Guadalajara defeated D.C. united 3-2) and played an exciting 2-2 draw in the first leg in Estadio Jalisco.
The second leg in the Estadio Hidalgo played out scoreless through 120 minutes, setting up a tense shoot-out that saw Pachuca hit their first 6 spot kicks. The Chivas followed suit until Alberto Medina clanged his effort against the left post as Calero dived in the opposite direction. Luis Landín blasted his shot straight down the middle and the Tuzos gathered up their second Concacaf Champions trophy.
Pachuca earned its fifth star a year later, beating Guillermo Ochoa, Cuauhtémoc Blanco and powerful América under the steady guidance of “Ojitos” Meza. The Tuzos ran away with the Clausura 2007 regular-season title and coasted to the Final as the No. 1 seed. Awaiting were the No. 3 Aguilas.
Juan Carlos Cacho played the hero this time, scoring all 3 Tuzos goals (a 2-1 win at Estadio Azteca in the first leg, followed by a 1-1 draw at home) as Pachuca edged América 3-2. Over a 7 ½-year period, the Tuzos had played in five Liga MX Finals, winning four times.
A third piece of hardware for Pachuca
The winning wasn’t done yet as the Tuzos completed a treble, of sorts. Three months after snagging the Liga MX medal, Pachuca raked in 1 million dollars by winning the inaugural North American SuperLiga (the precursor of the current Leagues Cup).
The Tuzos advanced out of the group stage thanks to a 1-0 win over the Chivas (goal scored by Rafa Márquez Lugo), then defeated the Houston Dynamo in a penalty kick shoot-out (with that goalie Miguel Calero putting on a show again).
In the final at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, the Tuzos and the L.A. Galaxy played to a 1-1 draw with Pachuca claiming another shoot-out win (4-3) as Calero made stopped three Galaxy spot kicks, including one from Landon Donovan. The Tuzos benefited from a first-half injury to David Beckham.
In September 2007, a month after hoisting the SuperLiga trophy, Miguel Calero suffered a cerebral thrombosis and he missed the entire Apertura 2007. Pachuca’s Golden Decade withered to an end although the Tuzos returned to the Liga MX Finals in the Clausura 2009 season, losing 3-2 to UNAM in overtime.
Pachuca lost another Finals after the Clausura 2014, coming up short against León who claimed back-to-back titles with the 4-3 aggregate win.
Pachuca would not win another title until Víctor Guzmán banged home the winner against top-seeded Monterrey in the Clausura 2016 season. Diego Alonso was the coach of that team which featured “Chucky” Lozano, Erick Gutiérrez and Rodolofo Pizarro, with Oscar “Conejo” Pérez in goal and Team USA defender Omar González anchoring the back line.