Monarcas Morelia Vs. LA Galaxy, CONCACAF Champions League: Referee 2, LA 1, Morelia Also Played

As a referee, you hope that nobody knows your name after the match. You hope that nobody notices you. You want the focus on the players and the play, not the guy running around with the whistle. The referee for the CONCACAF Champions League match between Monarcas Morelia and the LA Galaxy is named Gilberto Alacal Pineda and the final score was Pineda two, Galaxy one. Okay, the scoreboard said Morelia two, Galaxy one, but the referee allowed a Morelia goal that in no way should have been allowed then disallowed a perfectly good Galaxy goal, taking a win away from LA and completely changed the landscape of Group A.

LA had the first great chance of the match, but Omar Gonzalez's shot hit the post and bounced away to keep the match even at halftime. As a result, the two teams went into the break the same way they started the match.

Shortly after the second half got underway though, LA broke the deadlock. Robbie Keane gathered a long pass 20 yards from goal with just one defender to beat. He pushed the ball past the defender, got to it first and rocketed a shot home. The Irishman's quick play and good finish had the Galaxy in front in Morelia and with the way they were playing, they had good reason to believe they could hold on.

Then the referee got involved. An 83rd minute shot from distance was low and right at Josh Saunders. It was a ball he certainly should have handled, but it squirted by him. His scrambled back and jumped on the ball with it on the line, but not over it. Then, under pressure from a Morelia player he rolled over the ball and maybe (it wasn't clear on the replay), pushed the ball over the line. Even if it did go over the line, the player pressuring Saunders came from a blatantly offside position, which should have resulted in the flag going up, the whistle being blown and LA staying ahead, 1-0, but no. The referee gave the equalizing goal that may have never crossed the line and was a result of pressure from an offside player. 

In the final moments of the match, LA got a corner kick. The ball was swung in and headed down, forcing a save from Federico Vilar. He couldn't hold onto the ball though and Keane pounced, knocking the free ball home for the go-ahead goal. The problem is the referee didn't allow the goal. He waved it off, saying that Keane was offside on the header, only replays showed him not just to be onside, but onside by at least a yard, if not two. Legitimately LA goal waved off. Well done, Mr. Pineda.

Morelia came flying right back and earned a corner of their own. The kick found an unmarked Miguel Sabah who headed the ball right at the feet of Saunders, who should have been able to make the save. He didn't make the save though and Morelia had themselves a 92nd minute winner. 

To place complete blame on Pineda is a little harsh. The blame should go on the three-man refereeing crew considering each missed offside, or onside call was made by a different assistant referee so they deserve the bulk of the blame, but Pineda blew, or didn't blow the whistle. The point is this. A win that should have undoubtedly gone to the Galaxy went to Morelia because of the referees.

Instead of being in first place in Group A and six points clear of second place, LA is now tied with Morelia atop the group and actually in second place because of goal difference. Alajuelense are also just three points behind them with a match in hand. So thank you referees, you just completely changed Group A.

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