[MLS] The Major League Soccer Disciplinary Committee suspended Colorado Rapids midfielder Brian Mullan for 10 games and fined him $5,000 for his tackle on Seattle Sounders FC midfielder Steve Zakuani in the 3rd minute of Friday's game that resulted in the breaking of Zakuani’s right tibia and fibula. The Sounders also received word Thursday that they will be without their other co-leading scorer, O'Brian White, who will be sidelined indefinitely after undergoing surgery to remove a blood clot in his left leg.
The Disciplinary Committee determined that Mullan’s challenge, for which he received a red card, was reckless, egregious, and showed utter disregard for the safety of his opponent.
"In situations such as this, the game is robbed of its brilliance," said Sounders GM Adrian Hanauer. "Steve Zakuani is a young, talented and highly entertaining player. He will be missed, and we all wish him a full and speedy recovery. As a league, the Commissioner has stated his intention to be more protective of dynamic, attacking players. Hopefully this suspension is a step in the right direction. However, the harsh reality of this situation is that no length of suspension will bring back Steve to action any faster."
Colorado Rapids Managing Director Jeff Plush said his organization accepted the ruling that Mullan's tackle was reckless and agreed that further discipline was warranted above the automatic one match suspension that accompanies a red card.
"However," he added, "we strongly disagree that Brian’s tackle, although admittedly harsh by any account, should be punished more severely than premeditated acts in our League’s history."
Plush went on to support Mullan's long record -- he is one of only two players to win five MLS championships -- and express his disappointment with the "reaction of some segments of the soccer community."
"Brian’s challenge was ill-timed and the result was unfortunate," Plush said, "but in no way does this event properly define the long and outstanding career that Brian has had. Brian has a proven track record on the field as an intense and talented player, one who has won a championship with every club he has been with and a player who brings tremendous human qualities to the locker room and training field on a daily basis. He has been, and will continue to be a player who respects his teammates and competitors alike. One incident should not, and will not, define the exemplary career that Brian Mullan has enjoyed in Major League Soccer.
"Our organization has chosen the path of silence on this issue, both out of respect for the process and the people involved as well as to not promote public reaction. I am disappointed by the reaction of some segments of the soccer community that have attempted to portray Brian as anything other than a terrific person and competitor. The vitriol being displayed in social media, and the apparent sanctioning of it by those who could help in diffusing it, is counter-productive and only serves to undermine our League’s efforts to unify our soccer community.
"Brian has made the decision not to appeal the imposed sanctions, and we support him in that decision. Our organization enthusiastically stands by Brian Mullan and I look forward to having him once again help us compete for a championship upon his return.”
WHITE SURGERY. The Sounders also will be without another forward, O'Brian White, who underwent surgery on Wednesday in Seattle to remove a blood clot in his left leg.
A vascular specialist performed the surgery at Virginia Mason Medical Center, where White will remain for several days. He will be out of action indefinitely.
White, 25, started the first seven matches this season and is the team's co-leader with Zakuani with two goals. He also has two assists.