SEATTLE — While the physical scar is still there, the emotional damage done to Steve Zakuani is a thing of the past when it comes to the topic of Brian Mullan.
Mullan and the Colorado Rapids will play the Sounders at CenturyLink Field on Saturday (4 pm ET, watch LIVE online), marking Mullan’s first appearance in Seattle since he broke Zakuani’s leg with a tackle last April.
But Zakuani, who hopes to make his first Reserve League appearance sometime in the relatively near future, says Saturday’s game holds no special significance to him.
In fact, he’s urging fans to let it go, too.
“I wish him the best, I wish their team the best, I never wish ill on anybody,” Zakuani said. “I want the fans to understand that I have no issues with the guy. It’s not like we had some previous history and he came into to do it. He just made a bad tackle.
“My advice [to the fans] is let it go and use that energy to support the team,” Zakuani added. “The guys will need it.”
Mullan declined to talk to the media about his return earlier this week. In a statement, he reiterated that he is “deeply regretful of the incident which broke Steve Zakuani’s leg last season.”
The overarching message from Sounders camp is one of professionalism surrounding the game, and the coaches are intent on not losing focus from trying to get three points.
“We haven’t addressed it yet as a team,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “I expect our guys to be professional about it, I think our fans will be as well. It’s an unfortunate situation that happened last year. Obviously Steve and Brian have come to terms with it. We just have to go on and have to play a normal game and not make that the focal point for us.”
Zakuani would like to see the same thing. He says he’s well beyond being angry and would like to see everyone move on.
“I spoke to him already,” Zakuani said. “I’ve known he was remorseful. The only thing I didn’t like was his initial comment after the game and to be fair, he said he didn’t know the injury was that bad. Other than that, I think he understands what it cost me. I have a massive scar on my leg.
“It cost me a year of my career, but he understands that,” Zakuani added. “I don’t want to hold it over his head. I just want him to come in and play his game, just play the game of football.”
Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com and SB Nation.