This week in Liga MX, we saw Video Assisted Refereeing (VAR) used ten times across all games. Liga MX has in my opinion done a great job with the use of VAR. Others may disagree, and debate is health. VAR will always be controversial because it is an imperfect solution for an imperfect set of problems. There will always be subjectivity, whether it is around a ball striking an arm in an unnatural position (whatever that may be) or whether a foul was a serious foul play or merely unsporting behavior.
There will always be purists that say it ruins the flow of the game, but there are usually more hydration breaks per game than VAR consultations and most people don’t vociferously complain about that ruining the flow of the game. VAR has also most likely changed the behavior of players, as they now need to be cognizant that everything they do is subject to review. This is inherently a good thing, as it discourages the sort of skullduggery that players could often get away with. There are still practitioners of soccer’s dark arts in the game and always will be, but now they must be more inconspicuous in their acts.
What VAR has done however is assist referees in making better informed decisions and thus ostensibly ensuring the match is called as fairly as they can. They can take another look and see if the foul was really worthy of a card or not, if a player was offside or not, and do their level best to ensure a fair game was called. With subjective rules, it may never be totally fair but the referees can only call the rules that are in place as they are. This ain’t Calvinball.
Soccer may never be a fully utopian sport with completely impartial arbiters making the correct call 100% of the time, but as long as the people who make the calls are given tools to help them do the best that they can, I’ll support their endeavors.
Veracruz 1, Atlético San Luis 0: If there was a chance for Veracruz to get their first win in a calendar year, it might have been hosting newly promoted Atlético San Luis. But Veracruz simply couldn’t get the job done, losing 2-1 at home. One of the stranger events in recent Liga MX memory (which is saying a lot!) occurred when referee Jorge Rojas reviewed a play with VAR and determined that the ball had been handled in the box and awarded a penalty – and then promptly went back to VAR to see that prior to the handball, a foul had been committed which then negated the handball and thus the penalty. Rojas would go back to VAR in the 42nd minute when Lampros Kontogiannis went in hard on Ian González and awarded a penalty. González stepped up and converted to give Atleti the lead. In stoppage before the end of the first half, Veracruz was awarded a penalty and Bryan Carrasco would score to draw the sides level. Neither side had many good opportunities in the second half but San Luis would get one in the 88th minute when Juan Castro would play a ball out to the right for Jorge Sánchez. Sánchez ran the ball down to the end line and hit a cross back to the center of the box near the penalty spot for an onrushing Castro, whose header beat Sebastián Jurado.
Cuando parecía que nos íbamos con empate del Puerto, ¡apareció Castro con un gran remate!
— TUDN USA (@TUDNUSA) August 24, 2019
Morelia 2, UNAM Pumas 0: A dismal showing for a Pumas team that was finally beginning to show signs of life. In the pouring rain, Morelia would get on the board in the 33rd minute when Fernando “El Colorado” Aristeguieta beat the offside trap and got his head onto a great ball over the top from Joaquín “Shaggy” Martínez. The play was reviewed by VAR and the goal was confirmed. El Colorado would get his second of the evening in the 61st when Mario Osuna played him in and he hit a shot from a tough angle past goalkeeper Alfredo Saldívar.
— Monarcas Morelia (@FuerzaMonarca) August 24, 2019
Santos Laguna 2, Monterrey 1: A statement win from a Santos Laguna team that many thought had been exposed by Necaxa last week. Julio Furch put Santos up in the first minute when he was able to get to a scuffed shot from Brian Lozano and bang it home past Marcelo Barovero. Eryc “La Culebra” Castillo would double the lead in the fifth minute when Adrián Lozano intercepted a lazy touch by a Rayados defender, passed it up to Furch, whose shot was blocked. Castillo sprinted up to the ball and knocked it past Barovero for what would turn out to be the game winner. Former Tottenham forward Vincent Janssen would get one back for Monterrey in the 83rd minute when he was left unmarked and was able to get to a rebound given up by goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco. It was too little, too late however as Santos held on to get their fifth win in six games to go back to the top of the table.
— Club Santos EN (@ClubSantosEn) August 25, 2019
Querétaro 0, León 4: A statement win by León, who handed Gallos Blancos their first loss of the season and more than doubled their goals against tally on the season. It was almost a much different match however. León’s Andrés Mosquera was show a red card in the 20th minute but it was rescinded however a penalty was awarded to Querétaro. Luis Romo’s attempt was well saved by Rodolfo Cota however, and the game remained 0-0. In the 33rd, José Juan “JJ” Macías finished a fantastic flowing move by La Fiera, hitting a shot in stride past goalkeeper Gil Alcalá. 33 minutes later, Luis “Chapito” Montes played a great ball forward for Ángel Mena, who chipped Alcalá to double the lead for the visitors. JJ Macías would get his second in the 72nd minute, again benefiting from a fantastic display of ball movement from his team. Chapito Montes would get one of his own in the 89th minute when Joel Campbell picked a defender’s pocket, made a run and then hit a great square ball to the wide open Chapito who fired one home.
Pachuca 3, Atlas 1: A solid win at home by Pachuca against a listless Atlas. Oscar Murillo’s header off of a corner kick put Tuzos up in the 30th minute, and just before the clock hit the 45 minute mark Jorge “Burrito” Hernández’ shot from distance would get redirected by Martín Nervo past goalkeeper Camilo Vargas. After the break, Atlas would draw one back when Pachuca defender Gustavo Cabral inexplicably played the ball back on his own net past an out of position Rodrigo Rey for an autogol. Three minutes later, a fantastic cross was sent to Víctor Dávila, who was left unmarked on the left side of the box. Dávila’s scissor kick was true and he put the ball inside of the far post past Vargas for the final goal of the match.
Cruz Azul 1, Puebla 1: A match that both teams will feel they should have won. Cruz Azul had plenty of chances, but couldn’t convert any of them until the 60th minute when Juan Escobar hit a shot from distance that was blocked high up into the air by Puebla defender Pablo González, The ball went straight to an onside Elías Hernández, who beat goalkeeper Nicolás Vikonis with a right-footed blast. In the 74th, Puebla would equalize when Christian Tabó played a great ball in to Omar Fernández, whose shot went off of goalkeeper Jesús “Chuy
Corona’s leg and in. The play would be reviewed by VAR to ensure Fernández was onside, and it was confirmed by referee Erick Miranda that he was. Puebla had a golden opportunity in the 87th minute to get the game winner when they were awarded a penalty, but Lucas Cavallini’s shot was saved by Corona.
— TUDN USA (@TUDNUSA) August 25, 2019
Tigres UANL 1, América 1: In one of the premier matchups of the week, Tigres and América drew at Estadio Universitario in a torrential rain. Guillermo “Memo” Ochoa made his much anticipated (re-) debut with Club América, and looked good. It was Tigres who got on the board first though, with Luis Quiñones hitting a tough angle shot through traffic to beat Memo far post in the 26th minute. Ochoa would keep América in it, and they were able to level in the 60th minute when Roger Martínez made a great run down the right channel and hit a cut-back ball to a wide open Sebastián Córdova. Córdova hit a laser past Nahuel Guzmán for his first goal of the tournament to keep América the only undefeated team in the league.
¡GOOOOOOOOL! 🦅🦅 ¡GOOOOOOL! 🦅🦅
— TUDN USA (@TUDNUSA) August 25, 2019
Toluca 2, Tijuana 0: A big setback for Tijuana, who hcame into the match off of the bye week and with aspirations to ascend the table. Things derailed quickly for Xolos, when Felipe Pardo’s cross in the seventh minute was accidentally deflected in by center back Diego Braghieri. Xolos is a counterattacking team, and they had to try and play offense and score against a Toluca team that likes to sit behind the ball. It didn’t work well. Things went from bad to worse in the 58th minute when Camilo Sanvezzo was shown a red card for a bad foul, making Tijuana play down a player for the rest of the match. Alexis Canelo then added an insurance goal in the 76th minute when Alexis Canelo was able to get his head on a free kick from Pardo and knock it past a diving Gibran Lajud.
— TUDN USA (@TUDNUSA) August 25, 2019
Guadalajara 1, Necaxa 2: Necaxa is for real. On the heels of a 3-0 victory over previously unblemished Santos Laguna, Los Rayos went to Guadalajara and thoroughly outplayed Chivas, amplifying the clarion calls for Tómas Boy’s ouster. In the ninth minute, Maximiliano Salas spun away from a defender and hit a shot in the box that beat Antonio “Toño” Rodríguez. Six minutes later, an injury forced Eduardo “Chofis” López to be carted off of the pitch and subbed out. In the 40th minute, Luis Gallegos would hit a shot from distance to double the lead for Necaxa. Chivas would pull one back in the 64th minute when Dieter Villalpando was able to get to a ball that Necaxa just couldn’t seem to clear out of the box and hit it past Hugo González.
Bye week: Juárez
Tuesday, August 27:
Veracruz (0W 1D 4L) vs. Querétaro (4W 1D 1L)
Atlas (3W 0D 3L) vs. Tigres UANL (3W 2D 1L)
Atlético San Luis (2W 1D 2L) vs. Morelia (2W 0D 4L)
América (4W 2D 0L) vs. Pachuca (2W 1D 3L)
Wednesday, August 28:
León (3W 1D 1L) vs. Santos Laguna (5W oD 1L)
Necaxa (3W 1D 2L) vs. Toluca (1W 1D 4L)
Tijuana (2W 1D 2L) vs. Cruz Azul (2W 3D 1L)
Thursday, August 29:
Puebla (0W 2D 3L) vs. Juárez (1W 0D 4L)
Monterrey (3W 0D 3L) vs. UNAM Pumas (3W 0D 3L)
Bye week: Guadalajara (2W 1D 3L)