Featured / Union

José Martínez, asset or liability?

Photo credit: Paul Rudderow

It only took five minutes for the Union to be in trouble on Saturday night, when bad marking put the home team down by a goal. But a “difficult” situation became “impossible” approximately ten minutes later when José Martínez got booked for a completely unnecessary red card (1:15 in the clip below).

Was Castellanos barrel roll after the fact comically overplayed? Of course. But it doesn’t change the fact that El Brujo was way out of line lashing out at a competitor there. And make no mistake, that’s what it was- lashing out. His arm didn’t carry momentum in a manner that followed-through into Castellanos’ face, he intentionally lashed out at him.

And that is on it’s own a problem. In the past Martínez has been praised using the “Philly Tough” trope, and for good reason. He’ll put in a hard tackle, he’ll get in an opponent’s face, and he’ll back up teammates when things get a little heated. Philadelphia loves that, and it’s much-needed on a Union team that’s had to be scrappy to achieve what it has in the last two years. But he crossed the line Saturday night. Over an early-season game. A game. He’ll miss out on at least one more game for it, as of publication there’s no word yet if the MLS Disciplinary Committee has decided he deserves to miss more than that. It seems like they should.

But even beyond the ethical problems with Martínez’s behavior, there’s also the question about what it says about his decision making. He was already excluded from tonight’s CCL game because of yellow card accumulation. So the Union needed a full shift out of him on Saturday so as to leave players like Bedoya and Monteiro as fresh as possible when Atlanta comes to Chester. Instead they played the full game (or at least near enough in Bedoya’s case), most of it a man down.

So despite all the good he does on the field, the passes, interceptions, and tackles, the question has to be asked if José Martínez is an asset or a liability for this Union team. They are obviously a better team when he’s there, but is his absence going to cost the team tonight, or in the following weeks of MLS play? We will find out soon enough.



  1. msg24365 says:

    While he certainly did not bathe himself in glory in Saturday’s game, Brujo is, without doubt, a CRITICAL asset to this team. He does things for this team and in this system that no other player on the roster does or can do. Moreover, if you watch the dynamic on the field, it is clear that the players on the opposition teams respect his game.
    This was definitely bad timing on which to have a “bad day at the office” with the crunch over the next couple of weeks (including a mid-week game against NER for which any additional suspension may cover). No doubt about that.

  2. Russell Rogers says:

    Yeah, send him to an anger management class and get him back on the field as soon as possible.

  3. McMohansky says:

    He’s the best, most valuable (outfield) player ever to don a Union shirt. Easily, imho.

    I’ll take his occasional overstep any and every day. He hurt the team with that early red card, yes. And yes I was nervous in the Atlanta first leg when he picked up a seemingly needless, and questionable early yellow. But somehow he still controlled the entire midfield for the entire 90 without lowering his energy, application and influence on his teammates.

  4. He’s a huge asset. It’s hard to imagine anyone on the squad taking his place at the base of that diamond. In fact, I’m sort of hoping to see the Union in a 4-2-3-1 tonight. If ever there’s an excuse to hold the line and hit on the counter, this is it.

    Also, it’s not Martinez’s fault that Bedoya and Montiero put in a full shift. Tonight is mostly in the bag, so to speak, but it’s a crucial contest. You have to make sure your best are up to it tonight to ensure passage to the next round.

  5. el Pachyderm says:

    come on…..

  6. SilverRey says:

    He turned it around last season and only got two more yellow cards after him and Bedoya were suspended for accumulation – Bedoya went off and got himself suspended for the 2nd time
    This should get him back on track to being more balanced on the field again

  7. Once a player becomes a “top” player on a team, he gets scouted much more intensely. I think that last year he flew under the radar a little with the people that did not see him play every week.
    I went back and re-watched the game and he was stepped-on/tackled/fouled hard at least 3 times before his red card, including right before the first goal (which was why he was still up field).
    It seems like he received similar treatment in the Inter Miami and first ATL game.
    It could be that people are just playing him rough because he plays them rough, or it could be that “the book” on him now is that he is a “hot-head” and if you get under his skin enough, he’ll give up a card.
    I hope he has learned his lesson and can dial it back a little because he has been my favorite player this year.

  8. In Tanner We Trust says:

    Asset. Not even a debate. How dynamic were Zelarayan and Pizarro against us? Answer: they weren’t, at all. 2 of the best in the league at their position. Moralez is also up there on the list, and how did he do when Brujo was gone? This site named him player of the game. We need him. Yes he needs to control himself and I’m still angry he was so selfish Saturday, but let’s relax. Outbursts happen. Remember Bedoya and Medunjanin getting reds against ATL that one game? Anybody wanna call Bedoya a liability? No, because our captain made a mistake and has otherwise been a massive reason for our success in recent years.

  9. Asset. This was the first red card the Union have earned in nearly 2 seasons. Was it a dumb play? Yes. He plays on an edge. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt going forward. That said, referees will be much quicker to show him cards and leniency going forward.

  10. T.Coolguy says:

    Its going to take more than the first straight red of his MLS career for me to consider Martinez a liability, even if that was a really boneheaded play against NYCFC. Defensive midfielders inevitably take some yellows, thats practically part of the job description.

  11. Kai Wagner got ejected one game his rookie season. Did not slow him down. Same case for el Brujo. I’m sure he’ll just learn to ride the knife’s edge more closely…

  12. Martinez made a giant bone-headed play against NYCFC, no excuses, and it was infuriating. He’s also been sloppy with some of his passing so far this season.

    None of this changes the fact that he’s still one of the best players on the squad, and absolutely critical for us to remain among the MLS elite. In an ideal world, he’d mature into the Kyle Beckerman type who knows *just* how far to push without going over the line. I hope that happens. But I’ll take him anyway, and not just for “Philly tough” marketing. The guy is an absolute beast, in a good way.

  13. Asset. No question! He is only human and will learn from this mistake. He is on the edge and that’s fine with me. Players are going to lash out. It’s what happens when you play with his level of emotion. I’ll take that every time!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


%d bloggers like this: