Tuzos stroll into Concacaf Champions Cup quarterfinals in style

Liga MX side Pachuca flexes muscles against MLS club Philadelphia Union, wins 6-0

Pachuca had plenty to celebrate Tuesday night, putting a half-dozen shots into the Philadelphia Union net. Salomón Rondón (center) led the way with a hat trick.
Pachuca had plenty to celebrate Tuesday night, putting a half-dozen shots into the Philadelphia Union net. Salomón Rondón (center) led the way with a hat trick. / Manuel Velasquez/GettyImages

Pachuca helps Liga MX restate claim to Concacaf bragging rights

Salomón Rondón scored three goals and added an assist to lead Pachuca to a 6-0 rout of Philadelphia Union and a spot in the Concacaf Champions Cup quarterfinals.

The Tuzos pressed forward from the outset, eager to impose their will on the visiting Union after last week’s 0-0 result in the first leg in Philadelphia.

Just 4 minutes in, right winger Emilio Rodríguez dribbled into the box then cut toward the endline whereupon Kai Wagner lunged to make a tackle, stepping on Rodríguez’s left foot. Play continued until VAR alerted referee Bryan López who jogged over to the video screen and was convinced by the replay that a foul had been committed.

Rondón cooly converted the penalty kick and the Tuzos were up 1-0.

Pachuca runs Union ragged

The Tuzos stayed on the front foot with Rodríguez, Erick Sanchez and Oussama Idrissi finding space to probe the Philadelphia defense while looking for Rondón in the box.

Pachuca nearly doubled its lead in minute 19, but Philly goalie Andre Blake made a fantastic save, dropping to the ground and getting just enough of his right mitt on a Rondón shot to deflect it around the left post.

For most of the first half, the hosts controlled the tempo but their 60% possession was mostly sterile due to sloppy passing and a lack of concentration. A couple times, Tuzos were unaware of the proximity of Union players and were stripped of the ball in positive territory.

Still, Pachuca did patiently string passes together, forcing Philadelphia to chase. As a result, altitude-related fatigue became evident and Union players could be seen gasping for breath in the thin air. At 7,979 feet, Estadio Hidalgo is 7,940 feet higher than Philly’s home ground.

The visitors shook off the weariness late in the half and produced a flurry of activity.

The Union’s first shot of the game came from a midfielder turnover, Jack McGlynn letting fly from 30 meters and forcing a soaring save from Carlos Moreno in minute 42.

The Union came close again in minute 45, Daniel Gazdag’s backside header from a sharp angle swallowed up by Moreno.

Pachuca responded quickly, with Rodríguez rifling the ball into the net only to see the goal waved off. Moments later, Rondón made up for being offside on the previous play with a spectacular goal. 

The Venezuelan forward dribbled past a Philly defender and stepped into the box to left of goal. He then got past a second defender and eluded a third, poking the ball to Erick Sánchez who one-timed a pass back to Rondón who had slipped behind the defense.

The Tuzos’ goleador made no mistake, burying a left-footer past a helpless Blake and Pachuca went to the locker room ahead 2-0.

And then the floodgates opened …

Rondón was found to be offside again just after the restart, erasing his assist to “Chiquito”Sánchez who blasted a shot into the net from right in front.

Rondón was not discouraged, however, and he completed his hat trick in minute 53. Right back “Chaka” Rodríguez swiped the ball from McGlynn deep in Philly territory, poked it ahead to Emilio Rodríguez who dribbled to the touchline before zipping a low cross into the goal mouth where Rondón thumped it into the net.

Nelson Deossa made it 4-0 with a long shot that Blake muffed and Rondón finally did get an assist in minute 63, feeding a nifty touch pass to Oussama Idrissi who fired home from inside the half-moon.

Pachuca completed the scoring in minute 85 with Alan Bautista gifted an easy goal thanks to a nifty misdirection pass from Idrissi.

The Tuzos advance to the quarterfinals where they will face the winner of the Herediano-Robinhood series. Herediano – a Costa Rican team that eliminated Toluca in the Round of 32 – won the first leg match at home 2-0. The return match will be held in Paramaribo, Surinam, on Wednesday night.

A bit of Concachampions history Liga MX fans might like to know

Twelve times in Concacaf Champions League history, a knockout series pitting a Liga MX team vs an MLS team has seen a scoreless draw in the first leg. With Pachuca’s romp over Philadelphia, Liga MX teams moved to 11-0 in the return matches.


The 12th such 0-0 series was being resolved when we went to print: Tigres hosting Orlando City after last week’s double goose-egg result in Florida.