Mondaini suspended four games, fined for Morales tackle

NEW YORK — Chivas USA striker Marcos Mondaini will sit out a four-game ban for his challenge on Real Salt Lake midfielder Javier Morales last Saturday, league officials announced on Thursday.

The four games include the automatic one-game suspension for the red card he received after the play and an additional three games served by the MLS disciplinary committee. The Chivas USA player will also pay a $1,500 fine.

Mondaini brought Morales down from behind in the 38th minute of RSL’s 1-0 win over Chivas USA at Rio Tinto Stadium. Morales suffered a fracture-dislocation of his left ankle. He also tore ligaments on the play.

“The disciplinary committee unanimously agreed that Marcos Mondaini’s tackle on Javier Morales was reckless and endangered the safety of his opponent, hence the total suspension of four games and total fine of $1,500," said Nelson Rodriguez, MLS executive vice president of competition, technical and game operations. "The existence of a serious injury alone, however, does not mandate supplemental discipline of a certain level. The circumstances of each play are examined in great detail and discussed at length.”

Mondaini's tackle and the subsequent injury to Morales has drawn comparisons to Colorado Rapids midfielder Brian Mullan's reckless challenge on the Seattles' Steve Zakuani that left the Sounders winger with a broken tibia and fibula on April 28. Mullan was suspended for a total 10 games and forced to pay a $5,000 fine, and many thought Mondaini's punishment would be similar. However, Rodriguez explained why the league's disciplinary committee settled on a lighter citation.

“During its discussions, the committee characterized Mondaini’s tackle as late, clumsy, and from behind," Rodriguez said. "It was also, however, seen as an attempt to prevent his opponent from scoring. Brian Mullan’s tackle on Steve Zakuani last month did not serve such a purpose. Rather, it showed utter disregard for his opponent’s safety and appeared to be driven by anger.”

WATCH: Mondaini fells Morales

Morales' serious injury is the third involving a significant attacking player in MLS so far this season. Reigning league MVP David Ferreira suffered a broken ankle following a challenge from the Vancouver Whitecaps' Jonathan Leathers on April 23. He is expected to miss several months as he recovers.

“This recent trio of serious injuries — to Steve Zakuani, David Ferreira and Javier Morales — is unprecedented in MLS history and we believe it to be an aberration," Rodriguez said. "Nonetheless, the disciplinary committee hopes that players and coaches spend time reviewing these plays and discussing the potential consequences of certain challenges.”

Morales, 31, underwent successful surgery on Monday. His recovery could take up to five months.

“The timetable is such that we might get Javi back this season,” RSL general manager Garth Lagerwey said after the surgery.

Fines collected are donated to MLS W.O.R.K.S., Major League Soccer's community outreach initiative dedicated to addressing important social issues affecting young people and serves as a platform for both league and club philanthropic programs.