José Andrés Martínez, the Union’s ball-hawking defensive midfielder, has been suspended one game by Major League Soccer’s Disciplinary Committee for a foul during Tuesday’s win over Inter Miami that initially went uncalled. He won’t play Monday against Orlando City (8 p.m. TUDN and Twitter).
Martínez took a swing at Miami’s Andrés Reyes in the 40th minute, after both players went up to contest a ball in the air. Martínez landed on his back on the turf, and pushed the spikes of his cleats into Reyes’ groin.
Referee Silviu Petrescu didn’t see the contact, nor did his assistants on the field. And it happened so quickly that the replay booth didn’t give it further consideration.
The league said the lack of a call was an “error” made by the officiating crew, and that the Disciplinary Committee was unanimous in its view of the play.
Martínez’s tenacious play has made him a fan favorite, and he’s been a great passer. but he’s been living on the edge of a suspension throughout the tournament. He drew yellow cards in each of the Union’s first two group stage games, and could have drawn second yellows – and thus ejections – in each game too.
Union manager Jim Curtin withdrew Martínez in the second half of both games in part to prevent him getting sent off.
“He’s always around the ball, he’s always making hard tackles, he’s always on that fine line of aggression versus going over the top,” Curtin said. “I never want to take that away from him because it’s a great quality that he has ... but we have to keep him on that razor’s edge, on the good side of it.”
Curtin suspects that Martínez hasn’t yet gotten used to MLS referees, who run a tighter ship than those in the Venezuelan league where Martínez came from. A Venezuela native, the 25-year-old played the first four years of his pro career in his home country before the Union signed him last December.
Though Martínez has been with the Union for almost eight months now, he has only played three games in MLS because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“There’s still an adjustment and adapting period,” Curtin said.