Head Coach: Juan Francisco Palencia
Qualification: 2015 Liga MX Apertura runner-up
SCCL Appearances: 4 (2008/09, 2009/10, 2011/12, 2016/17)
All-Time SCCL Record: GP-33; W-17; D-7; L-9; GF-76; GA-36
Best SCCL Finish: Semifinals (2009/10, 2011/12)
Pumas is back in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League after reaching the semifinals in each of its last two appearances. In 2009/10, Pumas beat Marathon in the quarterfinals, before losing to Cruz Azul (agg: 5-1) in the semifinals. Two years later, UNAM defeated Isidro Metapan (agg: 9-2) in the quarterfinals and then fell to eventual-champion Monterrey (agg: 4-1) in the semifinals. Coached by former club legend Juan Francisco Palencia, Pumas is a seven-time Mexican league champion and reached the 2015 Apertura final, where it was thwarted by Tigres on penalty kicks (agg: 4-4, 2:4 pens).
Group Stage Summary
Pumas could’ve been forgiven for initially thinking that progression to the quarterfinals would be a foregone conclusion. After all, its opponents were DirecTV W Connection, which never advanced past the group stage in four previous appearances, and debutant Honduras Progreso, which failed to make the 2016 Honduran Clausura playoffs months after capturing the 2015 Apertura title. Confidence was high following wins in the opening two games, but a 2-1 loss on a late goal at Honduras Progreso in Week Four caused a sense of urgency. UNAM removed all doubt, however, responding emphatically by posting an 8-1 win over W Connection. Eduardo Herrera, Jesus Gallardo and Fidel Martinez netted two goals each in victory.
While Eduardo Herrera, who moved to Veracruz in between seasons, was inspirational in the decisive win over W Connection, winger Jesus Gallardo was crucial to Pumas’ overall success. The 22-year-old scored two goals and registered four assists in three games. His ability to get up and down the left side of the field was a distraction to opposing defenses, creating openings from which teammates could take advantage.
Eduardo Herrera, Jose Alfonso Nieto (3); Saul Berjon, Jesus Gallardo, Fidel Martinez (2); Omar Islas, Luis Quintana, Jose Van Rankin (1)
Jesus Gallardo (4); Pablo Barrera (3); Fidel Martinez (2); Marcelo Alatorre, Saul Berjon, Eduardo Herrera, Jose Alfonso Nieto (1)