“When a defining moment comes along, you can do one of two things: define the moment or let the moment define you.” – Tin Cup
Before we begin let’s set a couple of things straight.
Pachuca is not “el equipo de México”.
Se tenia que decir and I said it. No matter how much the guys from the Bella Airosa hard sell the idea, it’s still a bunch of gibberish.
Although it was the English who brought soccer to our country, Mexicans already had a passion for a similar game that included confrontations between rivals and a ball that went back and forth on a field: El juego de pelota, one of the most important religious rituals in Mesoamerican which to date is embedded upon our deepest primal memories, reflected in our passion for the Beautiful game.
So, of course, It is natural for us to love the game introduced by the English at the beginning of the last century. The love of soccer grew in England and Scotland thanks to the railroad and the railroad was also decisive in Mexico, as the tracks spread across the vast Mexican expanse, it brought with it the beautiful game. Where the railroad went so did the ball! Soon people the country from Veracruz to Guadalajara, from Mexico City to Monterrey had caught Futbol Fever. As early as 1880 mentions of informal soccer games and leagues began to appear in the news.
But the first true non-amateur league, governed by the rules of Futbol Asociacion was born in Guadalajara. That’s a fact. The Jalisco Amateur League, commonly called Liga de Occidente, was managed by the Federación Deportiva de Occidente de Aficionados, giving birth to Mexican professional soccer and with it the Atlas and Guadalajara Derby, and its century-old rivalry.
Street Credibility aside, one thing is certain, when Pachuca and Chivas face off it is a question of honor. While not considered a clásico in the true definition of the word, it had become a bitter rivalry born back in 2006.
I remember it clearly, we were 17 seconds away from reaching the final of the Clausura 2006 and dreaming of their eleventh title. In compensation time, with a three-two aggregate, I was sure nothing could stop us. The Tuzos needed a goal to even the score and put the Red and Whites out of business.
Gabriel Caballero centered the ball into the area where a waiting Miguel Calero, the Tuzo goalie had added himself to the melee, nothing to lose. The ball went up and into the maelstrom of bodies, confusion. When the smoke cleared the only thing that could be seen at that moment was how the ball slipped past Luis Ernesto Michel. I was in shock. I could not believe it. So close, yet so far away. Decisive moments made legendary by forward-minded actions.
Come Sunday night, Tuzos and Chivas will face off again in what could prove to be a historic defining moment. Both teams are coming off a less than acceptable season and have something to prove to themselves and their fan base. All we can hope for is that both teams come out convinced on giving their all and leaving their mark on history.