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Pachuca triumphs over Columbus in Concacaf Champions Cup final to advance to FIFA Club World Cup

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Major League Soccer (MLS) faced yet another setback in its quest to surpass Mexico’s Liga MX as the top soccer league in North America, as Columbus Crew fell short against Pachuca in the 2022 Concacaf Champions Cup final. Despite high hopes following Seattle Sounders’ triumph over Leon in 2020, MLS teams continue to struggle against their better-funded Mexican counterparts. The Crew’s 2-0 loss to Pachuca ended their bid to become just the second MLS team to win the regional club championship since 2001. This victory sends Pachuca to the expanded 2025 FIFA Club World Cup, hosted by the United States next summer.

Liga MX has dominated the Concacaf region for years, with 19 championship wins this millennium. While some believe that MLS was closing in on Mexico’s supremacy due to loosening salary restrictions for MLS teams, recent results suggest otherwise. The Crew’s loss in the final follows LAFC’s defeat to Leon in 2021, showing that Mexican clubs continue to outperform their MLS counterparts. Despite the Crew being the only MLS team to reach the semi-finals in 2024, they ultimately succumbed to the challenges of playing at the high altitude of Estadio Hidalgo in Pachuca.

Salomón Rondón and Miguel Emilio Rodriguez Macías scored two quick goals to secure Pachuca’s victory over the Crew. Despite mounting possession statistics in favor of Columbus, Pachuca’s clinical finishing and dominance in shots on goal proved decisive. The Crew’s best chance of the night came before Pachuca’s second goal, but Cucho Hernandez’s lack of playing time due to injury saw his shot miss the mark. Ultimately, the altitude and Pachuca’s home advantage proved too much for the MLS side.

Following their defeat in the Concacaf Champions Cup final, the Crew will now focus on MLS regular-season play, starting with a match against New York City FC. Despite their continental setback, the Crew remains in playoff position in the Eastern Conference standings and will aim to continue their strong league form. Meanwhile, Pachuca will revel in their sixth Concacaf championship and prepare for their upcoming Leagues Cup clash against New York Red Bulls.

As MLS seeks to challenge Liga MX’s dominance in the Concacaf region, the recent results highlight the continued superiority of Mexican clubs in continental competitions. While MLS has made strides in recent years, the gap between the two leagues remains evident on the field. With Pachuca’s victory over Columbus Crew, Mexico’s Liga MX reaffirms its status as the top soccer league in North America, leaving MLS teams to regroup and refocus on closing the gap in the future. Despite their valiant efforts, MLS clubs still have work to do to dethrone their Mexican counterparts and establish themselves as the preeminent force in North American soccer.

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