Goal scorers and injuries dominated this particular round of Major League Soccer. Thierry Henry and Landon Donovan got two goals apiece to help their sides to comfortable wins, but elsewhere two key players sustained potentially season ending injuries.
Seattle’s Steve Zakuani was the victim of a reckless challenge by Colorado’s Brian Mullan that earned a straight red card, and last seasons MVP David Ferreira suffered a broken ankle against Vancouver.
Both players will have taken some comfort that their teams got crucial away wins but their plight does, once again, raise the question about the level of physical challenges in the MLS. Were both players the victims of premeditated tackles?
MLS has chosen not to include the Jonathan Leathers tackle on Ferreira in its highlights package but it happened right in front of me at the game and it certainly didn’t look like a foul at the time (a corner was awarded) so I’d put that one down to a combination of bad luck and possibly the turf used by the Whitecaps that does seem to increase the number of injuries to their own players (although if anybody saw the game on TV I’d be interested to know if the challenge was legitimate).
The Mullan tackle on Zakuani was different in that although there may have been no intention to injure the Seattle winger the manner of the challenge was such that if he got it wrong then injury would almost certainly occur, and Mullan got it very wrong.
Perhaps the most worrying thing though is that in a post-match interview Mullan said that he would have no problem making the same challenge again. Some players don’t seem to have learned that lack of intent isn’t a “get out of jail free” card that can be used to excuse injuring an opponent.
In the rest of the action there was a first win for Chivas USA as they beat San Jose 2-1, and the New England Revolution welcomed new recruit Benny Feilharber with a 3-2 home win against Sporting KC.
The spoils were shared between Chicago and Houston and in Toronto where Columbus were the visitors.
It will be interesting to see how the MLS hierarchy react to serious injuries to two of their major attractions but the truth is that, in this case, there is little they can do.
The officials probably got the decisions right and the onus now falls on the coaches and the players to accept that they have a level of responsibility to their fellow professionals when they are on the field. They need to remember that tackling carelessly makes you just as culpable as tackling viciously.
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