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

Oct 13, 2013, 11:06 PM EDT

Osvaldo Alonso AP

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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  1. sir1389 - Oct 13, 2013 at 11:17 PM

    You can point to one or two players on every team who try to get underneath the skin of their opponent. The point is they’re just words, being a professional Alonso should be used to it and not resort to such antics.

    • Michael - Oct 14, 2013 at 11:30 AM

      You really have to wonder though, if one day an official or TV mic manages to catch what Johnson is saying to these guys, whether he might face a significant suspension himself.

      • mlsconvert88888 - Oct 14, 2013 at 3:42 PM

        I gotta admit, I’m curious about what it is the Johnson says to these guys to make them lose their cool.
        Last week Johnson inspired a head butt from Manneh (which I think actually bloodied Johnson and went uncalled). Kind makes you wonder what kind of Machiavellian mind games Will Johnson is playing out there.

  2. ndnut - Oct 13, 2013 at 11:40 PM

    Those “antics” should have earned Will Johnson a yellow for embellishment, as Alexi Lallas pointed out in the broadcast. Otherwise, I agree. Ozzie needs to keep his head screwed on straight more often, or we will really miss him in the playoffs at some possibly crucial moments.

    • mdac1012 - Oct 14, 2013 at 10:34 AM

      Johnson showed restraint, a indicated by the broadcasters. Most players would have fallen on the ground and rolled around as if they were in agony. The fault is with Alonso, not Johnson.

  3. ndnut - Oct 13, 2013 at 11:41 PM

    That is, if we make the playoffs now.

  4. awsnavely - Oct 13, 2013 at 11:47 PM

    A harsh red for Alonso to get if Will doesn’t get anything. But you can’t put yourself in that position if you’re Alonso. Just a boneheaded thing to do. Same thing with Alan Gordon’s suspension early in the season. Will Johnson will get in your face and say stuff that will piss you off. It’s going to happen, guaranteed, every game. It’s his role. He’s also very smart, and in situations like this knows how to play his cards. I’m not saying I agree with that being a proper role a player should take, I’m just saying that EVERYONE on the field playing him should know that, and be prepared to deal with that. Just a stupid move on Ozzie’s part.

  5. njsurfchick - Oct 14, 2013 at 8:02 AM

    The officials didn’t manage this match properly…chippy is one thing, but they allowed a landslide. Alonso lost his sh*t, yes, but if they’d controlled the physicality a little better from the beginning I don’t think the frustrations would’ve run as high. And Johnson- he’s known for pulling this kind of petty crap. He should have gotten a card for embellishment.

  6. socamr - Oct 14, 2013 at 12:48 PM

    Here’s my take: if you’re going to define any contact to the head of an opponent as “violent conduct”, obviously Alonso should be sent off. This definition might have advantages – it certainly would take the judgment out of the referee’s hands and should lead to more consistency. But MLS/PRO has not apparently issued this edict; we all have seen many examples where the player has not been sent off.

    Without such a rule, Alonso’s action falls somewhere on the spectrum between “Unsporting behavior” and “violent conduct” – these are the actual definitions in the laws of the game. I challenge anyone to watch the replay and tell me that Alonso’s action was closer to violent than to unsporting – he puts his elbow out to tell Johnson to back off after Johnson has come up to bump him; he doesn’t swing out at Johnson violently.

    It’s a problem especially considering how much violence (in the not-technical sense of the word) that Grajeda let go – not just the foul on Dempsey, but Nagbe barging into Yedlin perhaps a minute before the Alonso incident, followed immediately by Yedlin hipchecking Nagbe into the sideboard. Neither of those was deemed worthy of even a foul. You can’t have a very lax standard for 70 minutes of the match and then suddenly decide that one action is “violent”. Simply a poor job all around, culminating in a poor decision. It doesn’t excuse Alonso’s reaction – a red card is a red card, whether poorly given or not – nor that of the rest of the Sounders who behaved unprofessionally, but Grajeda just blew it.

  7. geojock - Oct 14, 2013 at 4:57 PM

    Lots of blame here.
    The officials let the game get out of hand.
    I personally dont think it should have been a red, but Alonso is dumb for doing it.
    Johnson should be ashamed of the acting job.
    Seattle players should get something from the league, but wont because MLS is cowards. The antics after the red are inexcusable. If i was the ref i would have handed out more red cards for that behavior.

    MLS needs to hold these refs accountable for the way the game went and also hold the players who went after the officials.

  8. vtdoc - Oct 14, 2013 at 5:19 PM

    Check the MLS video, you’ll clearly see Alonso hold his elbow up and Johnson goes into it, but also notice it takes a moment before suddenly he jerks his head back. If it was truly a hit with any impact, it would’ve impacted Johnson and his head would’ve moved immediately backwards with the elbow hitting. Now that is acting, but not even very good acting. Johnson should be called out for this behavior. Especially when the leaders of the Timbers state they don’t want this kind of behavior!

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