Oh those Liga MX Men in Black
After an insufferable month of Leagues Cup that saw Liga MX fans constantly bitching about poor refereeing by officials from across Concacaf (and with reason), it’s nice to get back to league play so we can bitch and moan about more familiar unqualified referees.
Fernando Guerrero trots around the pitch like he can’t find his car in a crowded parking lot while, Oscar Mejía arrives late to every play while looking like he’s never arrived late to a buffet table.
César Ramos strides around imperiously like he’s Eduardo Mata, brandishing his yellow card like its a baton and ignoring injured men sprawled on the turf like they’re third-rate bassoon players.
Fernando Hernández (he of knee-to-player’s-groin fame) celebrated his return to Liga MX action after a 12-week suspension by ejecting Tijuana’s Lucas Cavallini (and giving first-place Guadalajara a boost just when they needed it). Cavallini mocked the ref’s favoritism and has been slapped with a fine even though the same Liga MX Disciplinary Committee rescinded the red card on appeal. Oh my.
Referees Committee giving youngsters a chance
This past week, we did get a glimpse of the future as Liga MX officials gave assignments to Guillermo Pacheco (28), Iván López (30) and Jesús López (31) and Daniel Quintero (33).
Quintero has been in the rotation the past two years and is slowly establishing himself as a reliable arbiter but we’ll have to reserve judgement on the other three. The hope is that they continue to receive opportunities and are provided with constructive criticism as necessary.
But it’s not enough to improve the quality of the men with the whistle in their hand, Liga MX must also address the erratic performance of the VAR contingent and how VAR is utilized by their on-field partners.
Though not as bad as we saw during the Leagues Cup (which can be rationalized by the fact that many of the refs used came from Concacaf countries that do not use VAR in their domestic leagues), the inordinate amount of time wasted by the overly-scrupulous examination of slow-motion replay ought to be a concern for Liga MX bosses.
Of course, even worse is the misapplication – or ineffectiveness – of VAR. We saw that during Saturday’s América-León match when a dubious penalty was awarded by Oscar Macías even after he took a look at the replay (which always looks so incriminating in super-low motion).
The best thing for Liga MX is that some of the youngsters mature and become reliable – and invisible – officials. We don’t expect that to happen overnight, over even before the end of this season. But the gradual replacement of the underperforming veterans will be nothing but a positive development for Liga MX teams and fans.