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Liga MX wrap: Pachuca earns first win, Leon stays unbeaten

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All of Saturday’s action from around Mexico’s top flight…

Pachuca 3-1 Lobos BUAP

A strong first-half push from the hosts was all Pachuca needed on Saturday night to earn their first victory of the 2018 Clausura season. Angel Sagal brought the home side in front after just 10 minutes off of a near-post header, before Pachuca’s lead soon doubled 14 minutes later from the penalty spot when strike Franco Jara converted on the dead-ball attempt.

Just prior to halftime, Pachuca was out to a 3-0 advantage when 20-year-old outside back Erick Aguirre tallied his first goal for the club.

Last-place side Lobos got on the board three minutes into the second stanza via a finish from Heriberto Olvera, however, it wasn’t enough to provide anything more than a consolation for the visiting side.

Necaxa 1-3 Chivas Guadalajara

Mexican international Alan Pulido made it a dream start for the visitors from Guadalajara at the Estadio Victoria, however, that lead was cancelled out in first-half stoppage time after Carlos Gonzalez leveled the match up at 1-1.

The difference proved to be with 25 minutes left to play, when a goalkeeping error by Marcelo Barovero allowed Chivas to regain possession inside the Necaxa penalty area, before Ronaldo Cisneros tapped home the winner.

Then, a third goal came just prior to the end of regulation when Edwin Hernandez killed the game off for Matias Almeyda’s men, who also earned their first victory of the Clausura season.

Rest of Saturday’s Liga MX action

Cruz Azul 0-0 Club Leon
Queretaro 0-0 Tigres UANL
Monterrey 0-0 Club Tijuana

Sunday’s matches

UNAM vs. Club America — 1 p.m. ET
Santos Laguna vs. Morelia — 7 p.m. ET

Manneh done in Columbus, MLS; signs for Mexico’s Pachuca

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One of the most electrifying (if not frustrating and short-on-end-product) players to ever come through MLS has spurned a future MLS, in favor of a move south of the United States-Mexico border.

[ MORE: Gulati discusses 2026 WC bid, next USMNT coach ]

22-year-old Kekuta Manneh, who was drafted by the Vancouver Whitecaps in 2013 at the age of 18 before being traded to Columbus Crew SC in March of this year, has signed with Liga MX side Pachuca on a free transfer, the club announced on Tuesday.

Born in The Gambia and moved to Texas at the age of 15, Manneh became an American citizen during his time in Vancouver (he maintained residency this side of the U.S.-Canada border his entire time with the team in order to do so), and was subsequently called in this year’s January camp without appearing in the post-camp friendlies.

Crew SC’s move to acquire Manneh, which cost them midfielder Tony Tchani and $300,000 in combined allocation money, netter the (perhaps) Austin, Tex.,-bound team four goals and three assists before losing the player without receiving a single dollar in transfer fees. Columbus will, however, retain Manneh’s MLS rights.

It’s been a solid 24 months since we’ve seen anything resembling Manneh’s best, let alone the potential pinned on him early in his career. The blazing speed he possesses in the open field has rarely been harnessed and used to produce the kind of end product that many thought could eventually make him an elite attacker in MLS and set him on his way for a move to Europe.

Honda takes road less traveled, signs with Pachuca in Liga MX

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Keisuke Honda paved new roads earlier in his career, first starring for CSKA Moscow in the UEFA Champions League before making a big move to AC Milan.

But now he’s heading in a direction many from Europe travel to, though his destination was a surprise.

Honda announced early Friday morning that he had signed with reigning Liga MX champions Pachuca, becoming the latest high-profile European player to join Liga MX after Frenchman Andre-Pierre Gignac joined Tigres UANL.

[ MORE: Kyle Walker completes record transfer to Man City ]

The 31-year-old midfielder comes in as a replacement for budding Mexico National Team star Hirving Lozano, who signed with PSV Eindhoven earlier this summer, though the pair play different roles in midfield.

Honda only played in eight games in Serie A last season and will have his hands full with adjusting to the language and culture of Mexico along with the Liga MX style of play. However, if Gignac’s example is anything to follow, after some time to bed in, Honda can have a big impact in Mexico and could encourage others to join.

Pachuca is coming off defeating Mexican giants Club America in the Clausura Liguilla final and as winners of the CONCACAF Champions League, they’ll be playing this winter in the 2017 Club World Cup.

Honda will also be teammates with U.S. Men’s National Team centerback Omar Gonzalez.

Jara’s goal lifts Pachuca to CONCACAF Champions League crown

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Hirving Lozano’s dipping shot rebounded into the path of Franco Jara, who scored the goal that won Pachuca its fifth CONCACAF Championship early Thursday morning.

The Argentine’s goal was the only one of the win over UANL Tigres, and gave Pachuca its first continental title since 2009-10. USMNT veteran Omar Gonzalez played for the winners, while Jose Torres started for Tigres.

[ PL PREVIEW: Manchester Derby ]

Major League Soccer teams were eliminated in the semifinals, with FC Dallas falling to Pachuca and Vancouver Whitecaps losing to Tigres.

Beginning with the 2017-18 tournament, qualified MLS and Liga MX teams will not enter the tournament until the Round of 16. The entire tournament will be held in the same calendar year.

Heartbreak as FC Dallas falls to Mexico’s Pachuca in CCL semis

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So close but yet, so far.

FC Dallas of Major League Soccer lost 3-1 to Liga MX side CF Pachuca in Mexico on Tuesday, crashing out of the CONCACAF Champions League 4-3 on aggregate after a last-gasp goal sent Pachuca to the final.

Leading 2-1 from the first leg in Frisco, Tex. the reigning MLS Supporters’ Shield champs started well but fell behind just before the break as Franco Jara put Pachuca 1-0 up on the night and leveled the aggregate score at 2-2.

Pachuca doubled their lead in the second half thanks to Mexican national team star Hirving Lozano who smashed home a beauty at the near post but then Dallas make it 2-1 on the night and 3-3 on aggregate with just four minutes of regulation to go as Cristian Colman’s header looked to have sent the game to extra time.

There was to be heartbreak in the 92nd minute for FCD though, as Lozano’s cross was missed by everyone and nestled into the far corner of the net to book their place in the final.

Pachucha will play either Tigres UANL or the Vancouver Whitecaps in the CCL final, as the second leg of their semifinal (Tigres lead 2-0 from the first leg in Mexico) takes place at BC Place on Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET.

Watch the video above to see the goals as a brave effort from FCD came up agonizingly short as Liga MX got the better of MLS once again.