In a game ironically labeled as a “friendly,” more than 40 San Jose, California police officers were called to PayPal Park, home of the San Jose Earthquakes soccer club, to break up a fracas following the Earthquakes’ 2-0 victory this past Thursday night over Liga MX team Cruz Azul. Police made eight arrests, and two people were transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, one of the injured grazed with a bullet.
Signs things would not go smoothly began during the match when an individual in attendance wearing a Cruz Azul jersey and Lucha Libre mask ran onto the field and took a swing at Earthquakes player Jack Skahan. The subsequent excitement saw Earthquakes player Chris Wondolowski put the individual in a headlock until stadium security arrived to take the individual away. He was subsequently arrested and later released.
Although details are scarce, local news reports note physical altercations following the game without stating whether it was between Earthquakes and Cruz Azul fans, among fans of one team, or random people who happened to be there. Given how the activity was in the stadium parking lots, one may safely assume it involved attendees.
There is a noticeable absence of local media curiosity about the incident. A quick scan of San Francisco Bay Area media outlets shows zero follow-up stories save one noting that the match originally scheduled for last night at PayPal Park between Liga MX teams Chivas de Guadalajara and Club Leon was postponed until sometime next year. Said story also has a quote from an Earthquakes fan who attended the game versus Cruz Azul.
“We just had a feeling that this was a little rowdier than anything I’ve seen in 25 years going to Quakes games,” Katona said. “I’ve been to countless Earthquakes games since I was a little boy, and this was the craziest I’ve ever seen it. I’ve never had an issue in the past, I’ve never felt unsafe, and I’ve never left a game early before last night. So, I still think games are safe to go to; last night was just a little bit of an exception.”
I have attended Earthquakes games in the past, and the atmosphere, even when the opponent was the LA Galaxy back when David Beckham was on the team, was always both fun and family-friendly. Somehow I doubt the Columbus Crew spark unruly behavior among attendees when they are in town.
At the risk of having grievous accusations hurled my way, I believe it’s safe to say that it was not Earthquakes fans causing the problems last Thursday. It would be regrettable if this kind of behavior precluded any further games between MLS and Liga MX teams, but as ESPN notes, this is hardly an isolated incident. Until Liga MX fans learn how to control themselves and police their own, it’s well nigh impossible to see how the guaranteed increased gate when Chivas or variations come to town is worth the potentially deadly headache.