Here is a statement from Colorado Rapids Managing Director Jeff Plush regarding the Major League Soccer Disciplinary Committee’s decision to suspend Rapids midfielder Brian Mullan 10 matches for the tackle on Seattle Sounders midfielder Steve Zakuani that resulted in the breaking of Zakuani’s right tibia and fibula.
“First and foremost, on behalf of our entire organization and our supporters, I want to wish the very best to Steve Zakuani and send him heartfelt wishes for a full and speedy recovery from this injury. Brian Mullan has offered his public apology to Steve for the injury he sustained. As a person with a kind heart and respect and feelings towards his fellow teammates and opponents, Brian is genuinely distraught that his challenge caused this injury.
With respect to the decision by the Committee, we understand and accept their ruling that Brian’s tackle was ‘reckless’ and agree that further discipline was warranted above the automatic one match suspension that accompanies a red card.
However 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.
Brian’s challenge was ill-timed and the result was unfortunate, 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.”
My take: Gag. OK, first, I give them credit for not appealing the suspension. After that: Gag. The quality of Mullan’s swell personality and character is not the issue here. The club seems to think he should get some kind of first-fractured-leg discount. I don’t. And even if I did, it would be erased by a pair of hyper-lame apologies that express sorrow only for the result of the action, without taking responsibility for action itself. And now, in a formal statement, Plush has done exactly the same thing, portraying this as merely an ill-timed tackle. Meanwhile, virtually everyone outside of the Rapids organization — including Sigi Schmid, who clearly likes Mullan — realizes this was far less innocent than that. For what actually happened, 10 games seems about right. To the Rapids: That “path of silence” was the right path. You shouldn’t have strayed from it. To the MLS Disciplinary Committee: Congratulations. You have taken a solid step toward a better and safer league.