Storylines is so ready for Leagues Cup to get started but is still a bit confused about Minnesota United’s first opponent. What’s the deal with Club Puebla? Are they good, bad, or something in between? I took to the internet to see what I could find, and I put together a little history lesson for all of you to enjoy. It’s story time!
Since 1904, the city of Puebla has had organized soccer in some form. Their first team, Puebla AC, was founded two years after the first known league was started in Mexico. After a tumultuous few decades of relocating, folding, and starting new clubs, Club Puebla emerged from the chaos in 1944 and has represented their city ever since.
In their first-ever season, Los Camoteros (The Sweet Potatoers) found immediate success, earning a second-place finish in the league and winning the Copa México against Club Ameríca in a thrilling 5-3 final. They would claim the Copa once more in 1953, the last title the club would win for the next 30 years.
Following financial struggles throughout the mid-1950s, Club Puebla was reformed in 1964. They were forced to play in the second division after their revival and ultimately waited six years to earn their promotion back to the top level in 1970.
The following decade was mediocre at best for the club, with several near-misses with relegation keeping La Franja on the brink for most of the 1970s. However, bad times never last, and Puebla found success once more in 1982. Manager Manuel Lapuente did more than lead his former team to the playoffs; he brought them all the way to the title. A dramatic come-from-behind effort against Chivas in the final saw Alberto Orozco write his name in the club’s history books, as his tying goal earned his side the penalty shootout that gave them their first-ever league title.
The late 80s brought the club its greatest period of success, with Copa México titles in 1988 and 1990, as well as another league title in 1989. Misfortune struck again for the club not long after, though, and more ownership struggles saw the club plunge into a period of disarray. They narrowly avoided relegation several times, eventually dodging the drop in 2000 by essentially purchasing another club and rebranding them as Club Puebla.
After their little switcheroo, Los Camoteros failed to find the spark they needed. Puebla finally went back down to the second division in 2004, but their stay didn’t last long. Just two seasons later, they won promotion again, and they haven’t looked back.
Since their return, La Franja has been getting their feet under them. They haven’t reached the heights of the past, nor have they fallen to the lows that once plagued them. A 2015 Clausura Copa México title marked their first top-level trophy since their 1990 triumph, showing fans that the good ‘ol days aren’t just a thing of the past.
For all you USMNT fans out there, you might remember that striker Herculez Gomez spent some time with Puebla in 2010. His prolific scoring form earned him a spot on the 2010 World Cup roster, giving his club the third-best scoring record in the league.
With a checkered history and some American connections, Club Puebla is one of Mexico’s most interesting teams. They’ve got the spirit of champions in them, but it’s a spirit that’s been dormant for quite some time now. Their resilience and refusal to quit are commendable; such attributes shouldn’t be ignored, and neither should a club with such a unique story.
Club Puebla vs. Minnesota United
Allianz Field | Saint Paul, Minnesota
07.23.2023 | Leagues Cup Group Stage Game #1
8:00 p.m. CT (MLS Season Pass, UniMás, FS1, 1500 ESPN)