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Mullan handed 10-game suspension, fined $5,000
by Paul Kennedy, April 28th, 2011 3:51PM



[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.

  1. John Carlisle
    commented on: April 28, 2011 at 4:29 p.m.
    While I have no argument with this suspension, what MLS has really failed to address is the horrid inconsistency with refereeing in this league. For example, the tackle which probably ended David Ferreira's year was from behind and was not even called a foul. (And there is no hue and cry for any punishment for that mugging either.) While in the very first game of the season, Brek Shea is given a straight red card for a dubious charge from behind. Until MLS takes control of the refereeing, it will never shed itself from being considered only a "physical league."
  1. Ernest Irelan
    commented on: April 29, 2011 at 8:04 a.m.
    I find 5000 a trivial amount considering the loss of a year of Mullan's victim. He should also be out for the same period of time as Zakuani. We can blame it all on the referees, however, players need to know the laws of the game also,,no excuse for someone that has as much experience as Mullan. He should be setting an example for future MLS players, in the RIGHT way, NOT the wrong way..winning laurels of the past does in no way, give him a free shot at anyone...
  1. Andrew Post
    commented on: April 29, 2011 at 1 p.m.
    I agree, poor leadership on Plush's part to feel he has to speak for Mullan's character. In a case like this, if Mullan had a reputation as being a stand up guy, then poeple woulnd't have to come out of the woodwork to stand up for him. The truth is Mullan does not have a great reputation in the league. Plush should have just kept his mouth shut and said we accept the punishment and will move on. Come On PLUSH! When you try and ease the heat on Mullan you only look foolish! This was a play where Mullan reacted with emotion and his intent was to FOUL Zakuani, even though he didn't intend to break his tibia and fibula. When a HIGH UP trys to defend a player that has clearly crossed the line and needs to be dealt with, it really goes to show the poor character of both player and organization. I agree Whole heatedly about the inconsitencies with the referees. Inconsistencies happen on a scale, but this season thus far they have been large. MLS needs to look for better quality and players, coaches and club owners should expect as much.
  1. Andrew Post
    commented on: April 29, 2011 at 1:06 p.m.
    Ernest: Though you find the fine trivial, you cannot, nor would a league want a player in this case to be dealt such a harsh blow as to impeded the natural physical-ness of the game. If the fine and suspension were say double, I think you would find a backlash from players and coaches alike. Had Zakuani not had his league broken in the same foul, we might only be looking at a yellow card. So we have to look at this whole situation from the aspect that the fine and suspention were mainly because of the horrific injury it caused and not so much the tackle. I have seen hundreds of these tackles in the MLS and some have warranted yellow and some red. But i have NEVER seen the devistation like the one Mullan caused. It was time for a punishment like this, but not much greater. For the sake of the game. One could only imagine the lack of physical-ness that would result from a very harsh suspension/fine.
  1. Margaret Manning
    commented on: April 29, 2011 at 1:16 p.m.
    Gee, after Plush's ringing endorsement of Mullan, I feel like chipping in to help pay his fine. Not. "Brian has a proven track record on the field" as . . . a hacker?
  1. Paul Amato
    commented on: April 29, 2011 at 6:14 p.m.
    He should have been suspended for the entire season without pay and a hefty fine. There is no excuse for this type of play.
  1. Paul Amato
    commented on: April 29, 2011 at 6:16 p.m.
    His foul was season ending, possible career ending, and definitely life changing. Zakuani may never be the same player.
  1. Steven Erickson
    commented on: April 29, 2011 at 7:43 p.m.
    Put Plush on the pitch and have Mullan tackle him in the same fashion as the cheap attack on Zakuani. What will be Plush's spin doctor statement be then?
  1. Manuel Trejo-von Angst
    commented on: April 30, 2011 at 4:04 a.m.
    I guess I'm the only one who agrees (a bit) with Plush. There was nothing about the tackle that looked like it was meant as a pre-meditated act to cripple Zakuani. So in that respect, it is INSANE to suspend him longer than other people who have kicked people in the face while they are down intentionally. That is a criminal act. One final note, the calls to make him sit as long as Zakuani is out are almost as nuts as the penalty. Soccer is a physical game. Accidents happen and injuries arise from those accidents sometimes. If someone knows they might be forced to retire because they timed a challenge poorly and injured someone you are going to see some of the most gutless, feckless playing and defending you are ever going to see because no one is going to push themselves and put themselves in a position where someone might even pull a muscle because of them.

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