HARRISON, N.J. – Tim Cahill is not happy.
Speaking to reporters for the first time since being diagnosed with a torn ligament in his right ankle, Cahill expressed his frustrations Thursday with MLS’ decision to leave D.C. United center back Dejan Jakovic unpunished for the tackle in the New York Red Bulls’ 2-1 win on Aug. 31 that sent the Australian international back to the sidelines.
Cahill had just recovered from a PCL tear in his right knee prior to the match against United, an injury that came as a result of a studs-up tackle from Yordany Alvarez in the Red Bulls’ 4-3 victory over Real Salt Lake on July 27. Alvarez received a yellow card for the incident and was also retroactively fined and suspended three matches by the MLS Disciplinary Committee, but no such punishment was handed down to Jakovic.
“That’s ridiculous, the tackle,” said Cahill of Jakovic's challenge. “I must feel that Alvarez must feel hard-done by, because it was exactly the same sort of tackle and if he’s not going to get a yellow card, then it has to be dealt with. Hopefully, it was accidental and I’ve had to sit out for two weeks, maybe longer.
“For me, it’s just frustrating because it’s a ridiculous tackle. All my injuries here in the MLS have been from some pretty ridiculous tackles.”
Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke fumed in the days following the Jakovic foul as well, especially given the rough play his Designated Player has endured this season.
“I’m a bit angry that now within two months we have two tackles on Cahill that sideline him,” Petke told reporters on Sept 3. “This time, it‘s going to be around three to four weeks, last time it was close to three weeks. Two tackles, that he tears a PCL and now he has ligament damage, and both of them go unpunished [in the games]."
Cahill has scored eight goals and added four assists in 22 games in 2013, his first full season in the league. But that season has been derailed by the recent injuries.
“I just feel the consistency, Alvarez got a yellow card on the pitch and then he got suspended for the tackle. [Jakovic’s tackle] didn’t get dealt with on the pitch and it didn’t get dealt with off the pitch,” Cahill said. “Whatever they want to do, that’s fine by me. It just means I just need to work harder and be mindful of the fact that when I play to be careful of reckless challenges.
“Look, I’m the first one that loves a challenge and to be physical with players and I never want to be the one that’s reckless and hurt someone. Hopefully it was just an accident on the day and the repercussions of it is that I tore the ligament off my bone, which for me is just a pain because it’s just time that I’m missing playing. “
Cahill is still a question mark heading into Saturday’s home game against Toronto FC (7 pm ET, MLS Live). He said he is recovering well but does not know whether he will be able to suit up for the match.
“Last few days, I’ve been running and putting a lot of weight through it and today I trained again,” he said. “It feels good but it’s still a bit indecisive of whether [I’m] going to be involved tomorrow because the team is doing well anyway. It might wait until the morning."
Another player who might be out of comission on Saturday is Lloyd Sam. The veteran midfielder, who has scored in each of New York's last two games, trained Friday but left practice early with a trainer. Sam had been dealing with a groin issue as recently as Thursday, and Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke said he would need to consult with his medical staff after Friday's practice to determine Sam's availability for the weekend.
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by email at Franco8813@gmail.com.