It has been an amazing 10 years for C.F. Pachuca, considering that in the 90's, they were a team that was jumping back and forth between divisions. Founded in 1901, Mexico's oldest outfit spent the majority of the 20th century in lower division purgatory. But as the century came to a close in 1998, Pachuca paid enough indulgences to remain in the top tier. And it didn't take them long to cash in on their new found fortune. The Clausura 1999 tournament culminated with Pachuca lifting the trophy. They would lift it an additional 4 times.
The self-proclaimed "equipo de México" has also enjoyed success outside of Mexico. They won the CONCACAF Champions Cup twice, forging a pretty decent rivalry with Houston Dynamo on the way. And they were the first Mexican club to win a South American tournament: the 2006 Copa Sudamericana. Pachuca won their away legs in both the semi finals and final to take home the trophy.
Pachuca catalyzed their on field success for the greater good. The club is a key player in the Universidad de Futbol, a one of kind school and university that combines education with sport. Their youth academy has done a great job of feeding the first team, elevating 40 players over the last 10 years to the first team. A handful of those have been called to the national team.
But even with all the trophies, the strong youth academy, and their commitment to the Bella Airosa community, there is one white whale that has eluded not just Pachuca, but the entire Mexican Primera.
Mexican clubs have been playing in the Libertadores since 1998. And while some clubs have made some deep runs, only one has made a final - Cruz Azul in 2001. Pachuca begins its second tour tomorrow in a play-in vs. La U. de Chile. They were knocked out in their first trip by Chivas in the round of 16 in 2005.
Pachuca will have to do without three of their principals: Leobardo Lopez in Oakland with the national team, and Christian Gimenez and Gabriel Caballero are nursing injuries.