Champions Cup semifinals: Three Liga MX sides in scramble to reach finals

Pachuca visits América tonight in series opener; Columbus hosts Monterrey Wednesday
Liga MX clubs Pachuca and América will meet for the first time ever in Concacaf competition when they face off at Estadio Azteca tonight in the first leg of their Concacaf Champions Cup semifinal series.
Liga MX clubs Pachuca and América will meet for the first time ever in Concacaf competition when they face off at Estadio Azteca tonight in the first leg of their Concacaf Champions Cup semifinal series. / Jam Media/GettyImages

The Concacaf Champions Cup semifinals kick off tonight in Estadio Azteca with an all-Liga MX battle pitting seven-time winner América against five-time champion Pachuca.

Wednesday’s first-leg semifinals match will see a Liga MX-MLS clash in Columbus where the Crew will host Monterrey.

Tonight’s contest at the Azteca is the 12th time in Concacaf history that two Mexican clubs will square off in a semifinal. 

This should not come as much of a surprise considering how dominant Liga MX has been in this competition – Mexican teams have won 38 of the 59 tournaments while earning the silver medal on 20 occasions.

Liga MX guaranteed at least one finalist

Despite the success América and Pachuca have enjoyed in the CCC, these two Liga MX clubs have never met at any stage in this tournament.

Pachuca last hoisted the Concacaf Cup in 2017, a year after the Aguilas won their last Concacaf crown.

América – the reigning Liga MX champs – started their Concacaf campaign slowly this year, losing at Real Estelí 2-1 on Feb. 6. “Los Azulcremas” shook off the stunning upset eight days later, but not very convincingly, defeating the Nicaraguan minnows 2-0 to advance to the Round of 16.

André Jardine’s club was much more impressive against Guadalajara, dominating the “Super Clásico” in the first leg on the road 3-0, then holding off the Chivas in the return leg despite losing 3-2.

In the quarterfinals, we saw a rampant América as the Aguilas annihilated the New England Revolution 9-2 on aggregate.

Alejandro Zendejas leads the Mexico City giants with 4 goals while fellow forwards Henry Martín and Julián Quiñones have contributed 3 goals each. Diego Valdés leads the team with 3 assists.

For its part, Pachuca has been equally dominant. The Tuzos started their tournament in the Round of 16 and outclassed Philadelphia Union 6-0 on aggregate, scoring all six goals at home after a scoreless draw in Philadelphia in the first leg.

Guillermo Almada’s men then dispatched Herediano with ease, first winning in Costa Rica 5-0 before cruising to a 2-1 win at Estadio Hidalgo.

Striker Salomón Rondón is the leading scorer in the tournament with 7 goals, while winger Oussama Idrissi has a team-leading 4 assists.

In their most recent meeting, Pachuca handed visiting América its first loss of the current Liga MX season, winning 2-1 on Feb. 17.

Will it be an all-Liga MX final?

Monterrey and Columbus met once before, that coming in the 2021 CCC quarterfinals.

The Rayados and the Crew played to a 2-2 draw in the first leg in Columbus but Monterrey dominated the return match, getting a brace from Maxi Meza en route to a 3-0 win and the Rayados would go on to win the tournament that year.

This time around, Columbus – the reigning MLS champions – enters the series coming off a gritty penalty-shootout victory over Monterrey’s crosstown rivals, Tigres.

The two teams played two 1-1 draws, requiring the shootout and Columbus showed they have ice in their veins, advancing 4-3 from the spot.

Columbus got to the quarterfinals by edging MLS rivals Houston Dynamo 2-1 on aggregate. 

Diego Rossi leads Columbus with 2 goals, scoring in each of the games against Tigres.

Monterrey has been in fine form in Concacaf play this season, winning all six of its contests.

The Rayados mauled Guatemala’s Comunicaciones 7-1 on aggregate in the Round of 32 before muscling past FC Cincinnati 3-1. Fernando Ortiz’s men then roughed up Lionel Messi and Inter Miami, winning 2-1 in Florida, then closing out the series with a 3-1 victory at home.


Striker Brandon Vazquez leads Monterrey with 4 goals (scoring in both games against FC Cincinnati, his former team), while the aforementioned Meza has 5 CCC assists.