Although the stands at La Corregidora were empty as Queretaro hosted Toluca on March 5, 2023, police officers stood guard outside the stadium in Queretaro, 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.
- 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).