Without question, Mexico has claimed its place as a home to a number of exciting club football rivalries.
There is El Clasico, the most famous of them all, featuring Chivas de Guadalajara and Club América. There is the Clasico Capitalino, showcasing América and Pumas U.N.A.M.
The Clasico Tapatio, the oldest derby in the country, features Chivas and Guadalajara rival Atlas.
In the north, the Clasico Regiomontano in the Nuevo Leon capital of Monterrey pits Tigres UANL against crosstown rivals Monterrey.
And there is the Clasico Joven, the Young Classic, which features Cruz Azul and Club América.
On Saturday, July 10, 2010, both teams will clash in a club friendly at a stadium that has seen its share of unforgettable memories: the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.
While this may not count in the 2010 Apertura standings, it will take nothing away from the excitement and electricity that both teams will bring to the pitch. Already tickets are being sold in the bucketfuls.
“This event will bring out soccer fans of all ages and backgrounds not just Spanish-speakers but fans that love the game and love watching great soccer," said Rudy Ybarra, President of Santa Barbara Soccer Entertainment, Inc. (SBSE).
“Simply put, this is one of the biggest rivalries in Mexico and even on the world soccer stage,” added Ybarra. “As a lead in match to the World Cup Final the next day, local soccer fans in the Los Angeles area are in for a real treat.”
“We’re thrilled to be televising such an exciting match-up,” said Raul de Quesada, Senior Vice President and Assistant General Manager of Fox Sports en Español.” “Our loyal viewers have come to expect these sought-after, quality properties from our networks.”
“It says a lot about this game to have a partner like Fox Soccer Channel and Fox Sports en Español covering this classic match-up,” says Marco Ybarra Director of Operations for Santa Barbara Soccer Entertainment. “It’s the best way to bring this game to the national audience that it deserves.”
Regarded as the richest club in Mexico, América have won a combined 29 national and international titles, and are second to Chivas in most Primera División titles won with 10.
Founded in 1916, Las Aguilas (The Eagles) are the only club to have ever called the Azteca Stadium as their home since its opening in 1966.
Many celebrated faces of the world game have donned the gold and blue of América, including current Mexican national team manager Javier Aguirre, Cuahtemoc Blanco, Carlos Hermosillo, Claudio Lopez, Salvador Cabañas, Oswaldo Sanchez and current Chicago Fire manager Carlos de los Cobos.
América is currently led by midfielder Pavel Pardo, Mexican national team goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, Paraguayan striker Salvador Cabañas and midfielder Ángel Reyna. Cabañas scored 11 goals during the 2009 Apertura, while Reyna scored seven to lead Las Aguilas.
Cruz Azul was founded a year after América, in 1927. They have also had their share of success, with eight Primera División titles under their belt. They were founded by workers of concrete manufacturer/current co-sponsor Cemento Cruz Azul, and are known as Los Cementeros (The Cement Makers),
Also known as la máquina cementera (the cement-making machine), Cruz Azul is the first and only Mexican or CONCACAF team to reach the final of the Copa Libertadores, when they lost on penalties to Argentine football giants Boca Juniors during the 2001 edition.
The club has also won five CONCACAF Champions League crowns, winning three of these in succession (1969-1971).
Famous players to have donned the strip of Cruz Azul include Hermosillo, Francisco "Paco" Palencia, Argentina's Cesar Delgado, Miguel Sabah, and Uruguay's Sebastian Abreu.
Cruz Azul is led by Mexican national team midfielder Gerardo Torrado and Argentine striker Emanuel Villa, who earned top scoring honors at the 2009 Apertura with 17 goals.
América and Cruz Azul first squared off on August 30, 1964 at the Estadio 10 de Diciembre (the current home of Cruz Azul's affiliate team in the Liga de Ascenso, Cruz Azul Hidalgo), with Las Aguilas winning 2-1.
During the 1971-72 Primera División season, on the heels of the 1970 World Cup, the Clasico Joven began to take off.
In the final of the match between América and Cruz Azul, Los Cementeros handcuffed Las Aguilas 4-1, adding misery to their Copa -Mexico defeat the same year.
In 1973, América earned payback with a 3-2 victory over Cruz Azul. Since then, it has been a derby whose appeal continues to grow.
As of today, both teams have each won 45 matches against each other with another 50 ending in draws. It just goes to show you how hard-fought this derby is.
And on July 10, a stadium that plays host to the Granddaddy Of Them All will also play host to a Young Classic that is coming of age.
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