Liga MX: Queretaro to welcome fans 1 year after violence, Chivas on hot streak, and more

Week 10 of the 2023 Clausura is now in the books. Looking back at the latest action in the top flight of Mexican men's soccer, here are three talking points and a few additional observations from the Liga MX weekend.

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As one-year anniversary of violence passes, Liga MX looks to bring fans back to Queretaro

Mexican soccer forever changed on March 5, 2022. During a home game for Queretaro against Atlas at the Estadio Corregidora, violent riots between supporters emerged in the stands and spilled out onto the pitch. With a noticeable lack of necessary security provided by Queretaro, players and fans were seen fleeing from the bloody and horrifying clashes in one of the darkest days in Liga MX history. Officials say the violence left 26 people injured, but that has been disputed by fans and news outlets who have alleged unconfirmed deaths.

Worries still linger after Sunday's one-year anniversary of the appalling events that unfolded. Although the league responded days afterwards with reprimands that included a one-year ban for all fans at Queretaro home games, a three-year ban at the stadium for their supporters groups, a change in Queretaro ownership, a five-year ban for those owners in league-wide activities and a leaguewide pause on all Liga MX supporter groups traveling for away games, it's difficult to feel as if enough was done to address the issue.

- Explainer, March 2022: Queretaro-Atlas violence

Despite the strong majority of Liga MX matches being safe for fans and families in attendance, the league has typically suffered at least one major brawl per year over the last decade. The hooligan-like supporters, known in Mexico as barras, are nearly always at the heart of these clashes, and when Liga MX had a chance to potentially ban them entirely after last year's clashes, league officials instead opted for a slap on the wrist.

While there has been a push to register members of supporters groups and to also pre-register match attendees online through a "Fan ID" system that is set to be mandatory by Week 14 or 15, that hasn't stopped altercations. For example, even with an empty home supporters section at the Estadio BBVA Bancomer last Saturday due to a Liga MX suspension for Monterrey's barras visiting an away game, fights still broke out during a 3-0 win over FC Juarez. Earlier in the season, there were also reports of altercations outside of stadiums during Atlas vs. Tigres and Toluca vs. Leon.

As for Queretaro, a dark cloud has hovered over the organization that has controversially kept its affiliation with the league after failing to curtail the violence last March through sufficient security. And yet, the club's home stadium of Estadio Corregidora could soon reopen its doors.

In what felt like a Friday news dump, Liga MX announced late last week that they're working with Queretaro and their local government to potentially allow fans back at the Estadio Corregidora by March 19. According to ESPN MX, the stadium is rushing to have 200 security cameras and other venue renovations ready before reopening to the public, and the 58 fans accused of being involved in last March's riot are reportedly banned from returning.

If -- or when -- Queretaro does bring back attendees, it will feel like less of a celebration and more of an anxious and depressing reminder of the distressing events that took place last year at the Estadio Corregidora.

Chivas gain momentum with fourth win in a row

Looking back on the field, no team in Liga MX has been in better form since February than Chivas. Following Saturday's 2-0 victory at home over Santos Laguna, Los Rojiblancos claimed their fourth victory in a row and have extended their unbeaten run to seven games.

Once again highlighted by early first half goals, this time from Victor Guzman and Fernando Beltran, and an impressive defensive effort, the three points claimed by Chivas has pushed them up to third in the Liga MX table and back in the conversation regarding title-contenders.

Led by a new project through the late 2022 hiring of technical director Fernando Hierro and manager Veljko Paunovic, Chivas have become pragmatic and defensively solid throughout the new year. After stating in November that he noticed a "a lack of confidence, a lack of conviction" in his first days with the players, Paunovic, a former Chicago Fire coach, has molded the Guadalajara club into a well-oiled machine.

With a 6W-3D-1L record and no games left from teams in the top five of the standings, Paunovic praised his players that capitalized on set pieces against Santos Laguna over the weekend, but still expects more.

"We can't just wait for the set-piece to score, we have to get into the [opposing] area more, we have to shoot from the outside, and I think we did. I'm very convinced that this team can do more and I've told the players to be more decisive when we reach the opposing area," said the Serbian manager after the victory.

Chivas' momentum couldn't have arrived at a better moment either. After facing Puebla away this Friday, they'll then prepare for one of their biggest games of the season: The Clasico Nacional against long-time rivals Club America in Week 12.

Players snubbed by Mexico national team grab headlines with goals

After being snubbed by new Mexican national team manager Diego Cocca for his roster last week, a handful of El Tri outsiders made a case for themselves with goals over the weekend.

Over at Pachuca last Saturday, Javier "Chofis" Lopez scored his sixth goal of 2023 in a stunning 3-0 away win for Los Tuzos over Club America. Although the 28-year-old has yet to earn a debut with the national team, it might only be a matter of time if his goalscoring rate continues.

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Looking back at Chivas, Guzman has also been on a promising run as one of the more crucial pieces in the Rojiblancos attack. After finding the back of the net against Santos Laguna, the midfielder now has five goals and two assists in his last seven appearances. After a three-year absence from Mexico, can he soon be back in the picture for the Gold Cup this summer?

Finally, we also have Rogelio Funes Mori, who was one of the six Mexico players involved in the 2022 World Cup that weren't included in March's national team roster. It makes sense as to why Cocca would want to move past the 32-year-old that wasn't a guaranteed starter for El Tri, but after scoring his eight goal of 2023 in the 3-0 win over FC Juarez last weekend, a return to Mexico's roster could eventually arrive.

Additional observations

- Elsewhere in Week 10: A lone goal from Fernando Gorriaran pushed Tigres to a 1-0 away victory against Necaxa, Mazatlan claimed their first win of the season in a 3-1 result over Cruz Azul, Canadian international Lucas Cavallini scored the equalizer for Club Tijuana in a 1-1 draw with Atlas, Leon scored twice in injury time during a 2-0 win against Atletico San Luis, Puebla defeated 10-man Pumas 4-2, and Queretaro, on the one-year anniversary of the March 2022 riots, secured a 1-0 win against Toluca.

-The Mexico national team's first mini camp of the year is now underway with 15 Liga MX-based players that have trained under Cocca in Mexico City. Chivas defender Jesus Orozco has replaced Monterrey's Hector Moreno, who is recovering from an injury.

- A Monterrey fan sadly passed away due what officials call natural causes after the 3-0 victory. A statement from the club revealed that the fan wasn't feeling well after the match and was unable to be revived by members of the Red Cross.

- The 2023 CONCACAF Champions League knockout round begins this week with the first legs in the round of 16. Tigres will host MLS' Orlando City (March 7), Leon will visit Panama's Tauro FC (March 8), Atlas will travel away against Honduras' Olimpia (March 8) and Pachuca will visit Honduras' Motagua (March 9).