As most of us have seen, Brian Mullan’s tackle on Steve Zakuni came just seconds after he had been knocked by Sounders defender Tyson Wahl. The replays show Mullan gesturing to the referee for a call, and when no call came, he immediately ran to Zakuani and slid into his legs.
After the game, Mullan apologized for injuring Zakuani, but added “it’s a tackle I’ve done hundreds of times and would probably do again.”
After the game, players and coaches on both teams generally portrayed Mullan as an aggressive player, but not a dirty one.
However by today, after seeing the replay, several Sounders seemed to have changed their opinions, clearly believing the tackle was retaliatory.
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And coach Sigi Schmid said that's something the league should consider intent while determining appropriate punishment. "My wife forced me to look at a replay," Schmid said. "I've only seen it one time, but like I said, I heard it there. I didn't necessarily want to see it again. I knew what the ramifications of it were. Now it's in the hands of the league as to what they're going to do and what kind of stand they're going to take."
Schmid was asked if the Sounders have a say in the league's decision:
"They have an apparatus set up to deal with that and the disciplinary committee that looks at those sorts of things. I have my feelings, but those are my own feelings."
Schmid was asked if intent can be judged and considered:
"It’s tough to determine what somebody’s thinking: You’re not in his head," he said. I’m not speaking as a coach right now: I know as a player if somebody comes into you and they’re fighting hard for the ball and they’re going for the ball and they miss-time to tackle, to me that’s one thing. If it’s a situation where they’re angry or upset about something, now they’re going ‘Here’s my chance to get even,’ I think that’s another thing. That’s something I think the committee has to look at. They have to judge as best as they can. For me personally I think there is a difference. We just had (Sounders rookie) Servando Carrasco suspended and as I said at the time, rightfully so. But that was a ball that was late, and he miss-timed the tackle. He was late and it ended up being a bad tackle, but it wasn’t a tackle that was done out of spite or out of revenge or anything like that. If you can, I think you’ve got to look at that because I do think that makes a difference, and you’ve got to look at somebody’s history.
Kasey Keller on the same topic:"Tough challenges are tough challenges and when somebody gets rolled up underneath you and something happens. But when it is so blatant, that’s even harder to swallow."
Even James Riley, who after the game posted on his Twitter account a reminder asking for both Zakuani and Mullan to be remembered with compassion, seemed to have changed his thinking after seeing the replay:
"I don’t think I’ll ever watch that replay again," he said. "I got reaction to that (Tweet). He didn’t get a foul and then he kind of went after the next player that had the ball. So when you get to hear that obviously it’s unfortunate that that’s the circumstance. Obviously I think even from Zakuani to Montero to when we had Ljungberg, those were guys that just get fouled a lot – especially on our team. When Ljungberg was here I think he was leading in fouls and when Montero’s on the field he gets hacked down, when Zakuani’s on the field he gets hacked down. That’s the way teams play us, and obviously this was a grossly unfortunate incident that happened to Zakuani. And so obviously there has to be some consideration. I’ve played against Brian Mullan the last seven years, I grew up hearing about him when I was in Colorado – he was a Colorado boy. I know that he plays with that kind of vigor day in and day out. I just think we all needed to decompress from the situation a little bit and come back with a clear mind. I guess right now, I’m indifferent about the entire situation. I just need a bit more time. It’s one of those incidents where you don’t want to take too much or too little.
"(Mullan's apology was) just saying that he’s just playing hard. ... He plays like that. It’s an unfortunate incident. I think he was going in to get a piece, obviously, and win the ball and send a message early in the game. And the way it happened obviously was unfortunate."
Finally, here's a very good overview of the case and explanation of the MLS disciplinary process from Steven Goff of the Washington Post.