COMMERCE CITY, CO - APRIL 22: Brian Mullan #11 of the Colorado Rapids recieves a pat from goalkeeper Matt Pickens #18 of the Colorado Rapids as he leaves the field after a red card foul on Steve Zakuani #11 of the Seattle Sounders FC in the third minute at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on April 22, 2011 in Commerce City, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
UPDATE 2: The Rapids have released their own statement, basically saying they accept the punishment but really disagree with it. Rather than go over it myself, I'm going to link the statement which is followed Don Ruiz's reaction, which I think tells us a lot. Don is a pretty reserved guy and even he is ... well, I'll let you read it, but I had about the same reaction.
UPDATE: We just received this statement from GM Adrian Hanauer: "In situations such as this, the game is robbed of its brilliance. Steve Zakuani is a young, talented and highly entertaining player. He will be missed, and we all wish him a full and speedy recovery.
"As a league, the Commissioner has stated his intention to be more protective of dynamic, attacking players. Hopefully this suspension is a step in the right direction.
"However, the harsh reality of this situation is that no length of suspension will bring back Steve to action any faster."
Brian Mullan has received a 10-game suspension and a $5,000 fine for his tackle that broke Steve Zakuani's leg in Friday's Colorado Rapids-Seattle Sounders match. Zakuani is likely out for the season. The suspension is the longest in MLS history. Ricardo Clark was also suspended 10 games and fined $10,000 for an incident in 2007. Per the MLS Collective Bargaining Agreement, all suspension are with pay, which is why the fine was added on. In an article on MLSsoccer.com, the league's vice president of competitions and game operations explained it this way:
"The Committee felt the egregious nature of the foul and the severity of the injury warranted the discipline issued," executive vice president of competition and game operations Nelson Rodriguez said in a statement. "The Committee believes the challenge showed an utter disregard for Zakuani's safety.
"In making this decision, the Committee took several factors into account: the timing of the challenge, the location on the field, the moments immediately before the challenge where it is clear that Mullan is frustrated and the severity of Zakuani's injury."
The article also said the Players Union is not planning to appeal the decision, although previous reports had suggested Mullan was planning to appeal.
By levying such a hefty punishment, it is clear the league is trying to send a message about reckless and dangerous tackles such as this one. While we'll never really know what Mullan was thinking, it definitely looked like he was trying to send his own message with the tackle after complaining about not getting a foul call seconds earlier.
Mullan has not been in training this week and is reportedly distraught over the incident. He has issued a formal apology, although many have pointed out that he did not take full responsibility for the tackle.
Brian's edit: Mullan has decided not to appeal, according to the Colorado Rapids' Twitter account.