Monday Musings: Refs underperform, Gio doesn’t

Liga MX refs are in the spotlight for all this wrong reasons just three weeks into the season. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)
Liga MX refs are in the spotlight for all this wrong reasons just three weeks into the season. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images) /

Poor performances by the men with the whistle should be raising alarm bells in the Liga MX front office.

Plenty of interesting story lines out of Matchday 3 in the Liga MX, including an atrocious start to league play for Cruz Azul, considered a title favorite before the season.

Additionally, Santos has come out like gangbusters and finds itself as the lone perfect team at 3-0-0 and an 8-1 goal differential. Right behind the Guerreros are the Gallos Blancos of Querétaro, a real surprise with a 2-1-0 record.

But in this installment of Monday Musings, I’ll touch on three items that I think will have longer shelf lives.

– Liga MX continues to have a serious problem with regard to quality of referees

– Gio dos Santos could play a truly significant role with América

– The Chivas are going to be giving their fans headaches all season long

Liga MX can’t escape referee problems

You always hate to talk about the refs after a game. The mark of a truly great ref is when you can’t even remember him being a part of the match.

Of course, sometimes a ref can appear to have a great game because of the integrity of the players. But even when the players appear to be self-arbitrating, that is usually because the ref has command of the match.

This past weekend in the Liga MX demonstrated that the Referees Committee has a monumental challenge as the league tries to develop a younger, fitter roster of refs. So far … not so good.

Both of Friday’s games were impacted by poor quality refereeing, though the outcome of the Atlas-Santos match was not impacted.

During the Puebla-Chivas match, ref Marco Antonio Ortiz seemed to be chained to the video replay booth, constantly running over to the sideline to check calls. The failure to make proper calls during live action caused constant interruption of the match and both teams suffered for it.

Liga MX Monday M
Ref Marco Antonio Ortiz spent a good deal of time chatting with the Video Assistant Replay booth on Friday during the Puebla-Chivas match. (Photo by Jaime Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

The biggest call came in minute 61 when Ortiz annulled Puebla’s go-ahead goal and ejected Lucas Cavallini for a foul on Guadalajara’s Eduardo López. Ortiz initially allowed the goal, but changed his ruling after consulting the replay. The goal was properly annulled but the foul deserved only a yellow card. The decision likely cost Puebla the match because – even without the canceled goal – they were dominating the match and probably would have scored, but without their best player – and a man down for 11 minutes – they were forced to settle for a tie.

On Monday, Puebla appealed the red card to the Liga MX Disciplinary Committee in hopes that Cavallini would not be forced to sit out their Matchday 4 encounter with league-leading Santos.

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For their part, Santos was aggrieved by ref Adonai Escobedo who failed to whistle a penalty against Atlas captain Osvaldo Martínez when the blatant foul occurred right in front of him. Escobedo even checked the replay but declined to change his call. He has been getting roasted in the media – especially by former league refs – for his errant calls.

Late in the game, Escobedo called a dubious penalty against Santos that Atlas converted to narrow the deficit to 2-1 (though Santos would hold on). Replays did not show indisputable evidence of a foul (did Doria contact the player or did he and Christopher Trejo hit the ball simultaneously, causing Trejo to sprawl?), a requirement for changing the live call.

Finally, Escobedo failed to see a punt by Santos goalie Jonathan Orozco hit the Spidercam, but once alerted by his assistant, he decided to give the ball to Atlas even though it appeared that the pass was destined for a Santos player.

Liga MX Monday Musings
Pumas coach Michel Gonzalez had a few choice words to say about the referee after his team’s loss to the Tigres on Sunday. (Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images) /

On Sunday, the Pumas felt cheated by ref José Alfredo Peñaloza who forgave a stamp by Edu Vargas (he only showed a yellow and either ignored the VAR or was not asked to look at the play as a potential red card. The Pumas were the better team to that point and playing with a man advantage could have made the difference in a game they would lose.

Peñaloza also overlooked a possible penalty committed by Tigres defender Hugo Ayala and later ejected Pumas defender Jeison Angulo for a purported elbow though a check at the replay booth might have changed his mind. After the game, Pumas coach Michel González said he thought VAR had taken a sick day.

Former ref Gilberto Alcalá also pointed out incidents in the América-Tijuana match (ref Eduardo Galván missed a red card foul by Aguilas defender Paul Aguilar), the Querétaro-Cruz Azul match (ref Oscar Mejía issued a yellow card for a non-existent foul) and the Juárez-Toluca game (ref Fernando Hernández called a penalty on a non-existent hand ball, but VAR overturned him).

We are only three weeks into the Liga MX season, but the refs seem to be on summer vacation still.

All hail San Gio

Giovani dos Santos made a big impression on the home fans with a goal and an assist during the Aguilas 3-1 win at Estadio Azteca. His contributions came in just over 45 minutes of playing time.

Liga MX Monday Musings
Gio dos Santos celebrates after scoring deep into injury time on Saturday night. (Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images) /

Gio came on to replace an injured Nico Castillo and made the pass that broke a 1-1 tie in minute 87. Dos Santos was a one-man fast break, taking a header, dribbling past one defender, outracing another then passing to a wide-open Renato Ibarra at the far post just as a third defender closed the gap. Gio finished off his night with a chipped goal in minute 90+5, getting to a perfect through ball from Roger Martínez.

With the injury to Castillo – a nasty ankle sprain – dos Santos might be called upon to take on extra playing time.

Chivas have little time to lick their wounds

Guadalajara excited its fans with its 2-0 home win over the defending champs on Matchday 2, only to produce a real stinker in the 1-1 road draw against lowly Puebla. To be honest, the Chivas were lucky to come away with a point at all and find themselves in 10th place.

This week, the Chivas (1-1-1 in league play) open their Copa MX schedule against league-leading Santos (at home) followed by a Liga MX match against newly promoted Atlético San Luis who will be coming off a bye and are 1-0-1, one spot behind the Chivas.

The busy schedule practical ensures that coach Tomás Boy will be rotating his line-up, still trying to find a starting group that works well together. This week could be critical for the survival of Boy who finds himself on the hot seat.