Sounders awaiting league discipline for Mullan
TUKWILA, Wash. — Bitter rain and a biting wind greeted the Seattle Sounders at Monday’s training session, the team’s first without Steve Zakuani.
The Seattle midfielder remains in a Colorado hospital recovering from a broken leg suffered at the feet of Rapids midfielder Brian Mullan. Mullan received a red card on the play, but additional punishment is expected due to the severity of the tackle.
With the five-person MLS Disciplinary Committee expected to make a decision on Mullan’s punishment Tuesday, the Sounders discussed the play that robbed them of one of their stars. Most Sounders hoped the committee takes Mullan’s apparent recklessness into account when deciding on punishment. On the play in question, it appeared Mullan was upset about a non-call a few seconds earlier before launching himself into Zakuani’s lower leg.
“I'm not speaking as a coach right now, but I know as a player if somebody comes into you and they're fighting hard for the ball and going for the ball and mistimed the tackle, to me that's one thing,” said head coach Sigi Schmid.
“If it's a situation where they're angry or upset about something, so now they're going, 'Now's my chance to get even,' I think that's another thing. Obviously that's something I think the committee has to look at.”
Goalkeeper Kasey Keller agreed.
“You never like to see players get injured, but of course, you don’t like to see them get injured in situations like that where it’s so blatant and so, just, kind of a disregard for personal safety,” said Keller. “It’s just a shame.”
Defender James Riley saw Mullan’s tackle in a similar manner:
“It’s probably a video I’ll never watch again, but I got reactions that [Mullan] didn’t get a foul and then kind of went after the next player who had the ball,” Riley said. “When you get to hear that, obviously, it’s unfortunate that that’s the circumstance.”
Riley also went a bit further. The defender mentioned that over the years, MLS teams who play with a physical style have been successful, especially in the MLS Cup Playoffs. Sounders players like Zakuani, Fredy Montero and Freddie Ljungberg were often the victims of harsh treatment from opposing players.
“You think back and teams who are able to play physical and kind of get away with it and not get carded a lot—especially not get a lot of red cards, have predominantly done well in the league if you look at MLS Cup champions in the past,” Riley said.
“We know that Zakuani was a target, Montero was a target, Ljungberg was a target when he was here. The offensive-minded guys are definitely going to get chopped down a lot. It’s just unfortunate incident but that’s MLS for sure. It’s a fast, physical, athletic league. That kind of just comes with the territory. It’s unfortunate.”
Schmid indicated there is no timetable for Zakuani’s return to Seattle. His return to the field is also uncertain – Schmid said one doctor told him it might be possible for Zakuani to return in 2011. Keller also took the hopeful tack, saying that he thinks Zakuani might be back for the postseason.
For his part, Zakuani’s spirits remain high. He posted a pair of messages to his Twitter account Sunday evening:
- Overwhelmed by msgs of support/encouragement. Can't change the past, but I'm gonna control my future by remaining positive! One love!
- Surgery went well and I am on the road to recovery. "A journey of a thousand miles, begins with a single step." Speak to you all soon!