Friday, April 6, 2007

High Drama as Last Gasp Pachuca Edge Dynamo

Superior speed, strength and skill, combined with shoddy officiating and a wonderfully raucous home crowd advantage, drove Mexican club Pachuca to a thrilling 5-4 OT aggregate victory over a game, but ultimately outgunned Houston Dynamo in the CONCACAF Champions Cup semifinals on Thursday night at Estadio Hidalgo.

The CCC Finals will now be an All-Mexican affair, pitting Pachuca vs. Chivas of Guadalajara, who dispatched DC United on Tuesday as both Major League Soccer squads fell just short of their rivals South of the Border in the semifinal round despite encouraging results in the US-hosted first-leg matches.

Houston showed real spirit after falling behind quickly 2-nil (thanks to a clearly offside opening goal and a soft PK) with Brian Mullan scoring off a neat Brian Ching to Dwayne DeRosario connection. Another trademark header from Ching appeared to secure the Dynamo's passage into the Finals in the 79th minute, despite a second questionable PK call and conversion for Pachuca, but the Mexican club, sparked by the brilliant Christian Gimenez, would not be denied. The Tuzos knotted the tie at the close of regulation, forcing OT, where Gimenez completed his hat trick with an inspired left-footed screamer past a helpless Zach Wells.

The end result, 5-2 on the night for Pachuca, will surely lead to gloating on the Mexican side and some overwrought hand-wringing in the United States. Neither should get too carried away. Pachuca are clearly a better side, and yet, required a gargantuan effort to get past Houston. The message from this matchup, and the DC-Chivas clash, is unmistakable: MLS clubs are gaining on their Mexican cousins. For fans on both sides of the Rio Grande, this is a terrific development, as the drama and spectacle fifty miles east of Mexico City and 7,960 feet above sea level was something to behold. North American professional club soccer has truly reached new heights.


Anonymous said...

Pachuca is the greatest!! he is the Southamerican champion and the mexican champion. !!

Jose said...

Pachuca was a better team. Remember they are the South American champ!!