Minnesota United prepares to play its third international friendly at Allianz Field on Saturday as it welcomes CF Pachuca from Mexico’s Liga MX. The visitors are the third Liga MX team the Loons have hosted in club history and are one of the oldest clubs in the Western Hemisphere. Pachuca’s long history has been filled with adversity and turmoil, but it has built itself up to be one of Mexico’s top teams over the past two decades.
The team was founded as Pachuca Athletic Club in 1901 by a group of miners from Cornwall, England. This eventually led to the club being nicknamed Los Tuzos (The Gophers) by fans. Pachuca became one of the founding members of the Mexican Primera Division a few years after forming.
Los Tuzos were one of a handful of clubs to survive the turmoil of the Mexican Revolution and helped rebuild the soccer landscape in the country. However, a brief hiatus in the early 1920s forced them to reform as a second division club. The team would not return to the top flight until 1967, and then only briefly.
It would take until the 1998–99 season for Pachuca to become a mainstay in the Primera Division. One year later, Los Tuzos would win their first title in the Invierno, now known as the Apertura, season. They quickly became one of the most dominate teams in Mexico, winning four league titles between 2001 and 2010 along with four Concacaf Champions Leagues, one North American SuperLiga and the Copa Sudamericana.
They lost just once in that Copa Sudamericana run in 2006, which came against a Deportes Tolima squad that featured current Loon Darwin Quintero.
The most recent title for Pachuca came in the 2016 Clausura, which qualified the team for the 2016–17 Concacaf Champions League, a competition it would go on to win. Los Tuzos followed those successes with a third-place finish at the 2017 FIFA Club World Cup, their best-ever finish in four appearances.
Like the Loons, Los Tuzos are in the middle of their season, currently eight games into the 2019 Apertura. A pair of wins and draws along with four losses sees them in 14th place as the competition approaches the halfway point. Just four points separate them from a spot in the Liguilla playoff, so they are very much in the hunt for another title run.
This game at Allianz Field will not be the first interaction between Pachuca and MNUFC. Back in 2016, the Loons trained at Pachuca’s Hidalgo-based practice facility during preseason. While there, the Loons played Pachuca’s reserve side as well as the Mexico U20 national team.
Now members of their country’s top league, the teams will get a chance to test out some new tactics and lineups against each other on Saturday night as both prepare to make a push for the playoffs.