The MLSsoccer.com website is counting down the most important league stories of 2011. Coming in at No. 3 today were the serious injuries suffered by some of the league’s stars, including the one that never should have happened to Sounders midfielder Steve Zakuani.
Here’s a highlight from the report:
And in the Pacific Northwest, Steve Zakuani, in his sophomore campaign in 2010, lit up the left side of the field for the Seattle Sounders. Ranked No. 4 in MLSsoccer.com’s 24 Under 24 of 2010, the Congolese winger scored 10 goals – roughly 25 percent of the team’s total of 39 – and added six assists that year. 2011 was supposed to be his time to shine.
But as it turned out, 2011 was the year without the playmaker.
On April 22, in his seventh match of 2011, Zakuani became the first major casualty of the season. He was stretchered off the pitch after just nine minutes of play, a victim of a vicious tackle from Colorado Rapids midfielder Brian Mullan that left the Sounders attacker with a broken leg.
MLS suspended Mullan a record 10 games and issued a $5,000 fine. But while the Rapids midfielder was able to step on the pitch once he served his sentence, Zakuani sat out the rest of the season while rehabbing the broken leg. The Sounders carried on more than admirably with newcomer Mauro Rosales leading the way, while Zakuani is still recovering with an eye on the 2012 campaign.