Clausura 2024: Of ‘new’ stadiums, ‘Chicharito’ rumors and other transactions

Mexico City venue will get heavy usage this season; Chivas finalizing roster moves

Cruz Azul last played at "Estadio Azul" on Oct. 21, 2018, a 2-0 win over Morelia. After being abandoned for two years, the stadium – renamed Estadio Azulgrana – became the home field of second-division Atlante. The Potros hosted the first leg of the Ascenso MX finals there on Nov. 30.
Cruz Azul last played at "Estadio Azul" on Oct. 21, 2018, a 2-0 win over Morelia. After being abandoned for two years, the stadium – renamed Estadio Azulgrana – became the home field of second-division Atlante. The Potros hosted the first leg of the Ascenso MX finals there on Nov. 30. / Jam Media/GettyImages
facebooktwitterreddit

Estadio Azulgrana …, or is it Estadio Azul … well, it’s also known as Estadio Ciudad de los Deportes, right?

Whatever it may be called, the 77-year-old venue on Insurgentes Ave. in southern Mexico City will be a busy place over the next four months.

With Estadio Azteca undergoing a comprehensive facelift so as to be in tip-top condition, América and Cruz Azul will be forced to play home games at the site currently occupied by second-division club Atlante.

As such, there will be 24 games played at Estadio Azulgrana (the nickname adopted in tribute to Atlante’s blue and red colors) even as renovations are carried out so that the aging site can safely play host to three franchises.

From Primera División in 1947 to Liga MX in 2024

“Sports City Stadium” was once home to "La Máquina Azul" (from 1996 to 2018) and América (from 1947 to 1955) and even Necaxa (from 1950 to 1955) but the Potros have been in residence there since 2020, returning to the capital after an 18-year perambulation in Cancún.

While there remains plenty of work to be done to freshen up the locker rooms, the access tunnels (from locker rooms to the pitch) and even the bleachers, the field is looking fantastic. So says “Record” columnist “El Francotirador” whose contacts revealed to him that Cruz Azul shelled out for a completely new natural carpet.

The stadium owners have reportedly invested very little in upkeep since Atlante moved back in (Potros ownership sprung for a bit of paint to touch up the joint, but did very little else) and they seemed unwilling to put forth much effort to spruce up the building once it became apparent that it would again be a Liga MX locale.

So the Cementeros picked up the ball and supplied materials, craftsmen and expert groundskeepers such that the playing field will look emerald green on Opening Night (Jan. 13) when Pachuca comes to town.

América has yet to pony up anything but it is expected that the Liga MX champs will dig deep to protect the grounds from the beating it will take for the next four months.

Latest Liga MX transactions

Guadalajara continues to scramble to finalize its roster as soon as possible as it attempts to make a run at its 13th Liga MX championship.

Mexican-American forward Cade Cowell could be registered with Liga MX HQ in the coming hours so he might be available for the season opener. Cowell, 20, traded in his San Jose Earthquakes jersey for a Chivas Rayadas kit and he has already passed his physical. Once he signs on the dotted line, he will report to coach Fernando Gago.

Negotiations with “Chicharito” Hernández could drag on another week or so. Even if the deal with the all-time El Tri scoring leader is completed soon, the 35-year-old veteran won’t make his Liga MX return official for another two months as he is coming off reconstructive knee surgery.

In the same column mentioned above, “El Francotirador” speculates that the blockbuster transaction might not sit well with Gago and GM Fernando Hierro.

Evidently, “Chicharito” opened talks directly with Guadalajara owner Amaury Vergara and the sporting braintrust was not involved in the discussions.

If true, it might indicate that Vergara is more interested in the boost in marketing the Chivas brand would get if the former Manchester United and Real Madrid star would provide.

On Tuesday, Santos Laguna revealed that right back Vladimir Loroña will join the team for the Clausura 2024.

Loroña, 25, spent the past three seasons with Tigres, playing sparingly but earning a Liga MX championship ring. The Sonora native also earned an Olympic bronze medal as part of Mexico’s Under-23 that finished third at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

The former Tijuana star is expected to challenge Ismael Govea for the starting right fullback position although Govea might also be moved inside to account for the pending departure of center back Félix Torres.

Up at the border, FC Juárez is trying to complete a free transfer to bring Costa Rica international Francisco Calvo to Liga MX

Next. Three transactions to take note of ahead of Clausura 2024. Three transactions to take note of ahead of Clausura 2024. dark

Calvo, a 31-year-old defender, is out of contract with Turkish club Konyaspor on Jan. 11 and he has already bid club and fans good-bye after playing in the team’s 3-0 loss at Galatasaray on Sunday.