Colorado Rapids midfielder Brian Mullan is a winner. He has five MLS rings to prove it. He competes in everything he does. Brian Mullan also messed up. The ill fated tackle against Seattle Sounders midfielder Steve Zakuani that occurred before most fans even found their seats still brings a wave of nausea whenever I see a replay, picture or description of the event. Most were seated by the time Zakuani left the field though. That is because he had to be stretchered off, with a leg broken in two places.
See the tackle here (not for those with a weak stomach):
Most by now have seen the pictures of Zakuani’s leg bent and broken just above the ankle. Most have likely also heard the words spoken by Brian Mullan after the game. Essentially he said he’d make the same tackle again, as its one he’s made plenty of times before. Well, no you didn’t Brian. This time you snapped
someone’s leg. That bit of information cannot be ignored. Now, all that said, very few would label Mullan as a dirty player. He has a reputation as a workhorse, as an aggressive player, but also as a winner. Teammates praise his determination and his dedication. Former coaches have said the same. Its that aggressiveness that has served him so well. This is not a player with the reputation of say, Dema Kovalenko.
The jury of judgment in the MLS offices fined him $5000 dollars and gave him a ten game suspension. Look to this to be more a statement to the players and fans of the league that the higher ups are looking to protect attacking talent. Do not look at this punishment as a direct reflection of Mullan and his ability. The league benefits from attacking soccer; it looks good and sells tickets.
Despite this, the league and the American game in general is built upon the shoulders of pure athletes. Athletes like Mullan, who step on the field every game and give it their all. This should not be forgotten amidst all the drama and excitement of the ordeal.
Credit Brian Mullan as well for accepting the suspension and fine without protest. This not only points to the class of the player but to the class of the man. He seems to know and acknowledge now that he lost his head for a moment and that he made a mistake. Some reports even having him in tears after the challenge. He should be in tears, but that’s only because he’s a man of honor and ethics. Lets not forget this as we move on and wish Zakuani the best.