Pachuca Dominates and Columbus Crew Succumbs in CONCACAF Champions Cup Final

Mexican team clinches title with convincing 3-0 victory
Pachuca v Columbus Crew - Concacaf Champions Cup 2024
Pachuca v Columbus Crew - Concacaf Champions Cup 2024 / Hector Vivas/GettyImages

Columbus Crew's crushing 3-0 defeat to Pachuca in the 2024 CONCACAF Champions Cup final was a tough blow for the American side. In a decisive showdown, Pachuca showcased their superiority, making it clear that Mexican soccer remains a dominant force in North America. Columbus, coming off a notable campaign by eliminating Tigres UANL and CF Monterrey, couldn't overcome the final hurdle, watching their aspirations for continental glory crumble.

Playing at home in Estadio Hidalgo, Pachuca imposed their rhythm from the start. Veteran striker Salomón Rondón stole the spotlight, netting two goals and solidifying his position as the tournament's top scorer. Rondón, with his experience and precision, demonstrated why he's still one of the most feared strikers in the region. His first goal came at the 12th minute, capitalizing on a Columbus defensive error. The second, at 67 minutes, sealed the victory, securing Pachuca their sixth CONCACAF Champions Cup title.

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Amidst this storm, Columbus Crew fought but seemed a shadow of themselves. Problems started even before kickoff, with reports of several players and coaching staff falling ill with a stomach bug, hampering the team's preparation. Pachuca's altitude didn't help either, but the truth is, on the field, Columbus lacked the aggression and precision required to face such a qualified opponent.

Wilfried Nancy's men had their chances, like Jacen Russell-Rowe's shot hitting the crossbar at 76 minutes, but they rarely truly threatened Carlos Moreno's goal. Columbus stars Diego Rossi and Cucho Hernández couldn't convert the created opportunities, leaving the team without the firepower to reverse the adverse scoreline.

Nancy's post-match analysis was lucid and honest. He acknowledged Pachuca's superiority and praised his players' effort, who despite physical adversities, gave their all on the field. The revelation that over 20 people from the group were ill exposed a harsh reality: Columbus entered the field at a physical disadvantage, which may have been a decisive factor in the defeat.

Cucho Hernández, in his post-match statements, was emphatic in not blaming the city or the hosts for the situation but made it clear that the coincidence of so many illness cases affected the team's performance. Columbus captain Darlington Nagbe also highlighted the physical impact of the illness and praised the players' determination to compete despite the difficulties.

This defeat is a tough blow for Columbus, who sought not only the title but also a spot in the 2025 FIFA Club World Cup and the 2024 FIFA Intercontinental Cup. Expectations now hinge on how the team will bounce back from this disappointment. With just under two weeks until their next MLS game against New York City FC, recovery time will be crucial.

Columbus Crew's journey to the final was admirable, but the reality of soccer is unforgiving. In the decisive match, Pachuca was better, more organized, and capitalized on their chances efficiently. The defeat serves as a harsh yet valuable lesson for Columbus, who must learn from their mistakes and strive to improve for future international competitions.

The scenery of the 2024 CONCACAF Champions Cup once again highlighted the strength of Mexican teams and the gap that still separates MLS from the Liga MX giants. However, Columbus Crew's determination and resilience throughout the tournament showed that American soccer is on the right path, even if there's still much to learn and grow.