Mullan Gets Longest Suspension in MLS History for Tackle on Zakuani

Major League Soccer added nine games to Brian Mullan’s mandatory one-game suspension for his straight-red tackle that broke the fibula and tibia of Sounders winger Steve Zakuani last weekend.

The announcement came today, a day later than is usual, as the Disciplinary Committee took extra time to come to their decision, which tops the 2007 suspension (nine games total) of former Houston midfielder Ricardo Clark for doing this to Carlos Ruiz during a Dynamo–FC Dallas game:

(Not to defend what Clark did in the slightest, but Ruiz, a flagrant diver throughout his career, even had to embellish that one. He reacted as though he’d been kicked in the head, which, thankfully, he hadn’t been. But he couldn’t resist making a meal out of what was already clearly going to be a straight red for Clark. Funny. Anyway, back to Mullan.)

There’s plenty of video of Mullan’s tackle, but we saw it on TV when it happened, and that was enough for us, so we’re not going to post it here. Click this if you haven’t already seen it, and you’re not overly squeamish.

Of course the fur began to fly among the MLS faithful the millisecond the decision was announced:

It’s way too harsh!

It sounds about right.

The suspension should be based on the foul, not the fact that Zakuani got injured, which can be chalked up to bad luck [his leg was planted] more than the severity of the tackle….

And so on.

As for that last argument, we appreciated the following point from MLS commenter Randy Meeker:

“If you run a red light, you get a ticket. If you run a red light and hit a pedestrian, you go to jail. Same concept.”

That has a ring of logic to it.

It also stands to reason that because of this lengthy suspension, the next time an MLS player gets a rush of blood to the head over a non-call against him (as Mullan did right before the Zakuani incident), he might think twice before launching his body, full force, into the lower legs of the next opponent he sees with the ball.

Thoughts on the suspension? Too long? Not long enough? Will or won’t have an effect on future recklessness in the league? Let us know in the comments.

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Rapids, Red Bulls Keep Dealing

Houston will take a chance on Clark, ACL's and all.

One day after they completed a trade of Macoumba Kandji and Mehdi Ballouchy, New York and Colorado made additional deals to shore up their teams for the postseason.

The Red Bulls sent a conditional second round pick in next year’s draft to DC United in exchange for veteran defender Carey Talley.

The Rapids swapped allocation money and injured midfielder Colin Clark for Houston winger Brian Mullan and a fourth-round pick in the 2013 draft.

Our take? The New York–DC deal makes sense for both sides, as DC looks to rebuild (Talley, 34, made just three starts since June) and the Red Bulls solidify their backline with a veteran presence—who will no doubt be energized by the opportunity to play on a contender alongside the likes of Henry, Marquez and Angel.

But the Colorado-Houston swap is a bit of a head scratcher: Clark has shown flashes of excellence with the Rapids, but he’s torn his ACL in each of the past two seasons, shredding the ligament in a training session in August 2009 and then again on August 7 of this year, in a non-contact situation.

Why would Houston take a flier on a player with two consecutive career-threatening injuries to the same joint, while giving up a proven winger in Mullan, a veteran with four caps for the U.S. national team?

We’ll just have to trust that Houston’s Dominic Kinnear, who has four MLS Cups under his belt—two as an assistant, two as a head coach—knows more about this than we do.