Benji Joya says Obafemi Martins hit him with closed fist in altercation Saturday night
Five minutes after the team saw defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado go off for a second yellow card and Obafemi Martins take Seattle’s lead to 2-0, the Fire got a break of their own. Sprung by Quincy Amarikwa out of midfield, Harry Shipp went on a great individual run before beating Stefan Frei to take the score to 2-1.
Fire midfielder Benji Joya picked up the ball and ran it back to the center circle where an altercation broke out between Fire and Sounders players and ended with Martins being shown a straight red while Joya laid on the ground.
Neither local broadcast picked up the incident but asked post-game what happened, Joya said, “I had the ball and he reached over [to grab it]. I didn’t understand why because we’re the ones losing. He reached to grab it but his fist was closed, got my chin and then pulled the ball away.”
Joya said he had the ball at his stomach when Martins pulled it and motioned his fist upwards at Joya’s face.
The altercation was the third bit of aggravation between the two teams during the game. A shoving match between Martins and Fire midfielder Chris Ritter saw both players issued cautions in the seventh minute and led to numerous players from both sides storming into the area, while Hurtado's second yellow card also saw emotional moments from the Fire as Penso pointed to the penalty spot.
‘[Martins] was heated," Joya said. "We were all heated at that point in the game."
With no replays to look at, referee Chris Penso was asked post-game by the designated pool reporter why Martins was sent off. His statement said, “Violent conduct. Martins was sent off for striking an opponent in the head.”
We’ll wait to see if there is an angle of the incident that the MLS Disciplinary Committee can review this week.
WATCH: Martins sent off after Joya altercation