Ricardo Salazar

Sent off: Oh Osvaldo Alonso, what have you done? (video)

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Seattle losing 1-0 in the second half at Portland was bad enough, but an incident that could cost their best midfielder the rest of the regular season? That’s made things so much worse for the Sounders, especially considering Osvaldo Alonso has nobody to blame but himself.

Around the 70th minute at JELD-WEN, after a half where referee Hilario Grajeda’s reluctance to blow his whistle saw the game’s physicality slowly escalate, Alonso swung an elbow into Portland midfielder Will Johnson’s face, possibly assuming his off-the-ball action would go unnoticed. But one of Grajeda’s assistants immediately ran onto the field during a moment when a John Kennedy Hurtado foul had sorted the teams into a number of small shoving matches. When the dust cleared, Alonso had a straight red card, leaving Seattle to chase an equalizer with 10 men.

The action is idiotic – the small mistake we’ve seen over and over from players who momentarily ignore the repercussions. Behind the play, Johnson came up behind Alonso and put his chest into the Sounder’s left shoulder, appearing to say something into his face. Alonso threw is left elbow, barely making contact with the Portland captain, sending Johnson to his knees. Minutes later, after order had started to be restored, Alonso ejected from the game.

Alonso’s damage wasn’t done. On his way to the locker room, Alonso had to be restrained from going after Corey Rockwell, the AR who reported Alonso’s foul. He then had words with the fourth official, Ricardo Salazar, before teammates managed to direct him toward the locker room. Suffice to say, Alonso did not leave the field in a timely manner, leaving all to speculate how long the all-important destroyer will be sidelined for the Sounders.

He’ll automatically miss time for the red card. Whether more time is tacked on because of the post-card outburst is up to the league’s Disciplinary Committee.

For some reason, this kind of trouble controversy seems to follow Will Johnson, who has also at the center of incidents involving Marc Burch and Alan Gordon in the last year. Regardless, Alonso’s been around long enough to know throwing an elbow into an opponent’s face will bring out a red card. He can’t let Johnson draw a dismissal from him.

Unfortunately, that decision will likely cost him the rest of the regular season.

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Sounders win appeal of Obafemi Martins red card

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Simon Borg at the league’s official website does a great job of breaking down the weekend’s controversial calls. This week, one of the highlights was the Obafemi Martins red card incurred at Chivas USA, referee Ricardo Salazar having judged the Sounder striker kicked out at Gabriel Farfan in the 70th minute.

Of course, since it was Salazar that made the call, Sounders fans were even more enraged by what would have still been viewed as an unfair call (their heightened demonization of Salazar is nothing new). But the official was right on the scene when Farfan and Martins collided. And, as Borg notes, what looked like a well-after-the-whistle jab back at the new Chivas man could have been seen as violent conduct.

Here’s the video and his analysis, starting at 2:47:

[youtube http://youtu.be/SchsV8MkQs8?t=2m47s]

It’s not the most convincing red card, but Borg makes a good case. On the surface, there have definitely been worse decisions.

That doesn’t mean it was the right call, something Major League Soccer affirmed today, electing to uphold Seattle’s appeal of the Nigeria striker’s suspension:

An independent review panel has rescinded the fine and one-game suspension for a red card issued to Seattle Sounders FC forward Obafemi Martins in the 71st minute of Sunday’s game against Chivas USA. Martins will be eligible for Seattle’s game this Saturday against Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

I could go either way on this one. If Salazar’s close enough to make that call, I’m going to trust him. And if Borg breaks it down and makes a good case, even better. But if the review panel heard something compelling from the Sounders — something so compelling that they’re willing to overturn the decision — I’m willing to give that the benefit of the doubt.

So congratulations to the Sounders, who get Martins back for Saturday’s derby against Vancouver. But also, well done by the review panel to be willing to look beyond an ‘it could go either way’ video and hear Seattle’s case. It must have been a compelling one.