• Tuesday Apr 17, 2007

    Road to the "All-Tricolor" CONCACAF Champions Cup™ Final

    For just the fourth time in CONCACAF Champions Cup™ history, and also the fourth time in the last six years, there will be an All-Tricolor' final. Two storied Mexican teams, Pachuca CF and CD Guadalajara, will compete for the title of CONCACAF Champions' Cup™ Winners and a berth in the FIFA World Club Cup Japan 2007.

    In the quarterfinals Pachuca CF, who qualified for the tournament as 2006 Torneo de Clausura Champions, dispatched Guatemalan challengers, Deportivo Marquense, with two wins and without conceding a goal. The semi-final against the 2006 USA's MLS (Major League Soccer) Cup Winners Houston Dynamo was a completely different story.

    Two well-worked goals from Houston Dynamo in the first leg gave Pachuca CF a mountain to climb in the home fixture. But the tuzos had prior experience of just this sort of situation. In 2002, the year they won their only Champions' Cup crown, they lost the first-leg of the semifinal to Costa Rica's LD Alajuelense but recovered to win the second game and take their place in the final.

    This time around, at the Estadio Hidalgo, the tuzos took a three-goal lead after just 58 minutes and it appeared the return-leg of the semifinal was destined for a blowout. The Houston Dynamo, however, had other ideas and two quick goals put them ahead on aggregate score. With just five minutes remaining on the clock Caballero scored to level the series. Then, late in extra time, Gimenez scored his third, and tuzos' critical fifth, goal of the game breaking Houston Dynamo hearts and sending Pachuca CF to their second final in five years.

    CD Guadalajara will play in only their second CONCACAF Champions' Cup™ Final. Their last appearance was in the inaugural 1962 edition when they defeated Guatemalan outfit CSD Comunicaciones over two legs to become the first ever Champions' Cup winners. They qualified for the final the following year, in 1963, butchivaswithdrew from the event after that could not compete on the required final date against Haiti's Racing Club Haiten.

    By comparison, CD Guadalajara's long time rivals Club América are the most successful team in CONCACAF Champions' Cup history with five wins - a total matched only by Mexico's CD SC Cruz Azul. In addition, Club América are the current holders of the trophy having defeated CD Toluca by an aggregate score of 2:1 in last year's final.

    CD Guadalajara's route to the final began with defeat at the hands of W Connection FC of Trinidad & Tobago. The Caribbean Champions scored two goals in the last ten minutes of the quarterfinal first-leg to record an historic victory, despite losing their goalkeeper after only 21 minutes. In the return fixture, the eleven time Mexican champions ran out 3:0 winners to book their place in the last four.

    2006 MLS Regular Season Champions D.C. United were the semifinal opposition for CD Guadalajara. In an enthralling first-leg encounter, played in front of a passionate crowd in the pouring rain, Luciano Emilio scored a late equalizer for D.C. United after Omar Bravo had opened the scoring for the visitors. Back at the Estadio Jalisco, Jaime Moreno scored a superb opener but in less than five minutes Adolfo "Bofo" Bautista leveled it. In the second half, Gonzalo Pineda capitalized on a defensive error to take what was to prove to be a decisive 2:1 lead and ensuring an All-Tricolor' final.

    Mexican teams have traditionally dominated the CONCACAF Champions' Cup™ with a record 22 total titles. Teams from Costa Rica are the next closest with a total of six titles. So after twelve games in the eight cities of Washington, Houston, Tegucigalpa, Marabella, Guadalajara, Puntarenas, Pachuca and San Marcos the CONCACAF Champions' Cup™ will once again be decided in Mexico.

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