It's a pretty sad day all around. The weather here in the Sound is rainy and gloomy which matches my mood on this Monday morning. I'm sure I'm not the only soccer fan of the same mindset as it was a brutal weekend for fans of the beautiful game. The league has lost two of its most dynamic, creative players to severe injuries.
Seattle Sounder Steve Zakuani is likely out for the rest of the season. Players, coaches and fans from around the league are wishing the dynamic young midfielder a speedy recovery and a significant suspension for Brian Mullan. Even Colorado fans like Burgandy Wave's UZ recognize the tackle was reckless and are calling for a fair punishment. Steve Zakuani has a long recovery process ahead, but appears to be in good spirits during a recent interview with the Beacon Journal.
On Saturday, tragedy struck again when reigning MVP David Ferreira broke his ankle on a challenge by Vancouver Whitecaps defender Jonathan Leathers. Ferreira is easily the most dynamic player on the pitch for Dallas FC and the engine that drives the team. Ferreira scored or assisted on half of Dallas’ 42 goals last year. No word yet on the recovery time for Ferreira, but it's likely that he'll miss a large chunk of the season.
More thoughts from me on the injuries and links from around the league after the jump:
What to do with Leathers: First up, let me say that the tackle by Leathers was not even the same ball-park as the Mullan challenge. He comes in from slightly behind Ferreira, and both players get caught in the field turf, which is probably the main reason Ferreira breaks his ankle. It's frankly, a tackle that happens quite a bit in MLS. However, my limited knowledge of the laws of the game, tells me that tackles from behind are dangerous plays and more players should be seeing cards for those kinds of tackles. The league's disciplinary committee could decide this week to levy a retroactive punishment on Leathers for the tackle similar to the suspension and fine they levied to Servando Carrasco after the New York Red Bulls game.
Soccer Blog-o-Sphere on the Incidents: There are a ton of blog posts and articles out there on the injuries to Zakuani and Ferreira. Some of the better ones include Steve Goff's break-down on the MLS Disciplinary Committee that will decide the fate of Mullan and Leathers and a good article on how the 'managing personalities' directive from the league might be encouraging reckless and physical play. Steve Davis at Sports Illustrated believes this is a key moment for Don Garber to show the league wants to protect highly skilled, creative players while Kyle McCarthy at Goal.com believes the disciplinary committee will levy a modest 3-5 game suspension based on past precedent.
A Referee's Perspective: Roberto Alvarez, a member of the Board of the Seattle Soccer Referees Association, has a great article on Friday's game from the perspective of the referee. Silviu Petrescu and his team did an excellent job of reacting quickly to the injury, preventing retaliation from a couple of very angry Sounders and adjusting their tactics in managing the rest of the game. He also raises an interesting point about the match report Petrescu files with the league. Petrescu has the option of labeling the Mullan foul as 'violent conduct' rather than 'serious foul play'. A 'violent conduct' determination in the match report can lead to longer suspensions and fines. He also comments on the Leathers tackle at the end of the article.
Hassli to Miss Next Caps Game: Whitecaps striker Erik Hassli will miss another game after picking up a yellow card in a 2-1 loss to Dallas FC. The Whitecaps are incredibly thin across the field due to injuries and another suspension of Hassli is a big blow. I watched the game and saw a number of soft calls go against the big Frenchman. It was a clean game especially by Hassli standards. Hassli has clearly picked up a reputation among the referees and it will take a while for him to get back into their good standing. Especially if the the league continues to crack down on rough play.
Contacting MLS: I've had a couple of readers ask me this weekend about contacting MLS after my open letter to Brian Mullan. I put in a call to the MLS front office this morning and eventually got through to Director of Digital Strategy Chris Schlosser. We talked briefly about the best way for Sounders fans to get their voices heard. You can send your emails to firstname.lastname@example.org or call their offices direct at 212-450-1200. All emails about Steve Zakuani's injury are being forwarded to the MLS Disciplinary Committee for their consideration.
My Favorite Zakuani Moment: All this talk of injuries and suspensions was really depressing so I wanted to end the post with something that I know will always put a smile on my face. What better way to do that then with a video of one of my favorite Zakuani moments? It's a moment of pure brilliance from last season. I hope we'll be seeing the more of the same from Steve Zakuani soon. Best wishes on a speedy recovery Zak!
Please add links to your favorite Steve Zakuani or David Ferreira moments in the comments section!