Saturday, April 30, 2011

Let's pump the brakes on Brian Mullan's tar-and-feather party

So now that we're in our first MLS weekend post-Zakuani (that crack still haunts my dreams), people are going all crazy on us. Seattle fans are leading the charge. MLS is joining in. I'm not going to say a little anger isn't justified because, well, it looks here like Brian Mullan literally punched his boot clean through poor Stevie's tibia.

And Mullan's post-game response raised a few hackles in the great Northwest. Ill-advised words? Probably, yeah. Protesting the call on the field probably wasn't a road he wanted to travel down, either.

"I'm sorry for Steve (Zakuani). It was never my intention to injure him in the least. It's a tackle that I've done hundreds of times and would probably do again."

That's all well and good. A little league inquiry, a few vicious barbs thrown by the offended fans, a defensive Mullan... some of that is to be expected. But when some of this stuff about Mullan going away and never coming back starts coming from respected footy journos, well, that I can't get behind.

Mullan will do his time. Ten games, to be precise, on top of a cool $5,000 paid out to Garber & Co. Ten games is the longest ban in league history. For a 33-year-old midfielder with a limited shelf life, 10 games ain't chump change. He's giving up a good part of his season (I know, I know, he might have given up Zakuani's career etc...) for the tackle, and regardless how much remorse the guy has about it, and I'm sure he's got plenty, it's not our job to parcel out punishment. Mourn for Zakuani, feel anger toward Mullan, but don't tell the guy he has to retire. He's never had a reputation as a goon, so I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt here. I can understand how some snap, heat-of-the-moment condemnations can bubble up, but wait a few weeks and assess it with a clear head. Sounders fans, I'm looking in your direction. I guarantee the outlook on the whole situation will change. Doesn't give Zakuani his season back, but perspective is fun.

Look, unfortunate tackles are part of the game, sad as that sounds. As recently as a month ago, Jonny Evans' head-scratcher on our own Stu Holden deprived the USA's most creative midfielder (my opinion) a pair of friendly caps and knocked him out of the Gold Cup. And I hate to bring this up, but, remember this? So temper some of this fire-and-brimstone talk. Mullan made a mistake. Let him live that down in his own mind.

1 comment:

Tee said...

I am not going to go down the road of defending or attacking Brian Mullan. I am, however, going to point out that this kind of tackle has happened before. I was in the stands when Dema Kovalenko (D.C. United) broke Ronnie O'Brien's (F.C. Dallas)leg. And let me say that I saw Kovalenko take aim at O'Brien and told my companions before it happened that Kovalenko looked like he was going to make sure O'Brien didn't cause any more trouble on that side. I am still angry about that one and I am pretty sure there was no 10 game ban and, certainly, no major outcry in MLS. And who can forget Stojkovich breaking the leg of a college student and saying the kid shouldn't have been out there if he wasn't prepared to play all out. I think the response has been overheated and has become a witch hunt.