The Sounders have been losing more than games the past few weeks. They have also been losing their composure.
Seattle’s winless drought of five games, which matches a season worst, has been stained by three red cards. The latest came in Sunday’s 1-0 road loss to rival Portland, when Osvaldo Alonso was ejected in the 74th minute for swinging an elbow to the head and neck of Timbers captain Will Johnson.
“Obviously, Ozzie has to control his behavior,” said Sounders coach Sigi Schmid, “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.”
The Sounders have been issued 10 red cards this season, an MLS high. Two were eventually overturned by an independent review panel, but even at eight red cards, Seattle still is tied for the league lead and has matched its total from the past three years combined.
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Perhaps worse than the elbow was the Sounders’ reaction to what appeared to be the correct decision.
No less than four players, not to mention Schmid, aggressively argued the ejection with referee Hilario Grajeda, fourth official Ricardo Salazar and, the man who ultimately made the call, assistant referee Corey Rockwell.
Clint Dempsey and Adam Moffat were very demonstrative in their protests. Mauro Rosales came off the bench to argue with Rockwell and appeared to make contact doing so. Alonso had to be restrained multiple times.
“Seattle has completely lost control of this,” said ESPN’s Taylor Twellman during the broadcast.
The Sounders stand to at least be warned by MLS for mass confrontation, a point of emphasis this season to dissuade teams from ganging up on referees. Alonso could be in store for added punishment, outside of a mandatory fine and one-game suspension, following his action and reaction. Rosales could face discipline for leaving the bench.
Maybe the refs were the victims of Seattle’s pent-up frustration from the past couple of weeks or maybe it was from the way the game was handled by Grajeda.
Dempsey was fouled four times Sunday and suffered a separated shoulder on an early tackle by Diego Chara. Physical play was allowed to continue for most of the game, which added to the emotions of the rivalry.
“Chara commits I think four fouls in the first half and never gets carded,” said Schmid. “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 referees have got to protect him, and they don’t.”
• The Sounders finished at 4-6-2 in the MLS Reserve League after a 4-1 road win Monday in Portland. Rookie Eriq Zavaleta ended the season as Seattle’s top scorer with four goals.
• Seattle can clinch a playoff berth with a road win Saturday at FC Dallas. A Colorado loss against Vancouver or San Jose failing to beat the Los Angeles Galaxy would also put the Sounders into the postseason field.
• Vancouver’s Kekuta Manneh was named MLS Player of the Week. The 18-year-old had a hat trick against Seattle in a 4-1 win Wednesday at CenturyLink Field.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @joshuamayers.