“Seattle has completely lost control of this.”
That quote came from ESPN’s Taylor Twellman during the broadcast of Sounders FC’s 1-0 road loss in Portland (video here, our blog software doesn’t let us embed videos from the league website). Twellman was describing the fallout from a 74th-minute red card to Osvaldo Alonso for elbowing Timbers captain Will Johnson in the head/neck (seen above).
“Obviously Ozzie has to control his behavior,” said coach Sigi Schmid afterward, “but sometimes it’s tough in the heat of the battle to do that. But he needs to do better. He’s a veteran player; he needs to do better.”
Clint Dempsey, Adam Moffat, Mauro Rosales and Alonso all vehemently protested the ejection, even though most will concede it was the right call.
Losing control seemed like an appropriate description, and that applies to the team this season, as well. The Sounders have been called for an MLS-high 10 red cards, and while two were eventually overturned, eight still matches the most in the league and equals a franchise record set in 2009.
The past three seasons, Seattle has had eight red cards — combined. Here is a look:
2013: 10 (Alonso 2*, Scott 2, Yedlin, Neagle, Gonzalez, Joseph, Hahnemann, Martins*)
2012: 4 (Montero, Fernandez, Scott, Hurtado)
2011: 2 (Hurtado 2)
2010: 2 (Gonzalez, Montano)
2009: 8 (Marshall 2, Riley 2, Montero, Jaqua, Ljungberg, Keller)
* — overturned by independent review panel, applies to Alonso’s first red card
I’d expect we’ll see the Sounders reprimanded for mass confrontation, a new point of emphasis this season to try and discourage players ganging up to argue with the referee. Rosales could also be in line for punishment for leaving the bench to argue with the assistant referee, even appearing to make contact.
For what it’s worth, losing control also appeared to apply to referee Hilario Grajeda, as well.
“(Diego) Chara commits I think four fouls in the first half and never gets carded,” Schmid said. “I think that was a key turning point in the game, and obviously look at the times that Dempsey got fouled — that crap has got to stop. The referee has got to protect him, and they don’t. It doesn’t matter if a foul is early in the game or late in the game. The first time we committed a hard foul was immediately a yellow card on Moffat, so I think that set a tone for the game, as well. So obviously in the second half I think it got a little more physical because we realized that they weren’t going to call stuff, so we talked about how we needed to be more physical, which we did, I thought, in the second half.”
One last note, Johnson certainly looked to play the role of instigator, which wasn’t lost on the Sounders. The veteran midfielder has notably been on the receiving end of a couple gay slurs within the past year that were appropriately punished.
“All I can tell you is whenever things happen, Will Johnson always seems to be at the other end,” Schmid said. “I don’t know what he says or what he does to instigate things.”
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What did you make of last night’s incident and the red cards over the course of the season?