UPDATE 9:55 a.m. — According to this latest story from the Denver Post, Colorado Rapids coach Gary Smith changed his mind and Brian Mullan did not travel with the team this morning to Seattle.
I’ll never forget what happened April 22, 2011. I’m sure many Sounders FC fans agree.
Seattle was on the road in Colorado and Steve Zakuani had his leg broken on a reckless tackle by Brian Mullan. It was one of the most emotional nights I’ve ever been a part of. Mullan was suspended for an MLS-record 10 games, but many felt it should’ve been more.
Looking ahead, Saturday marks the return leg of the regular season match-up with the Rapids. It certainly sounds like Mullan will be traveling according to coach Gary Smith in this Denver Post story. Whether or not he plays or is even available remains to be seen, but the issue was raised at Sounders practice Thursday. Here is some feedback from the team:
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“I’ve thought about it. I’m speaking for myself personally now. I might have made a different decision. I might have said, ‘You know, let’s leave him at home.’ But that’s me and I don’t begrudge Colorado for their decision. That’s me and different people have different sensibilities. I think, if the roles had been reversed, I would have made a different decision. But it’s fine. Again, it was one tackle, one bad tackle. It shouldn’t define a career. It shouldn’t define who Brian Mullan is as a person. And I think we all have to get beyond it.” — Adrian Hanauer, part owner and general manager, on if Mullan should be available Saturday.
“We haven’t talked about it at all. I think it’s best to not even worry about it or focus on it. Mullan hasn’t been starting the last couple of games. I don’t know if he’s going to be in the starting lineup, if he’s going to be on the bench, if he’s going to be here — we don’t know. I hope if he’s here that our fans … I know they’re supportive of Steve Zakuani and they want to show that support and they’re going to be expressive at times, but it’s important that we know where the line is and that we know that Brian Mullan feels as bad about the situation as anyone else does to be honest.” — Coach Sigi Schmid on if Mullan’s possible return would be a distraction.
“Oh god no. That happens in games and it’s bad for Steve and it’s bad for Mullan. It’s just one of those things where it’s a tough situation. In saying that, Colorado was the better team with 10 men, so we have to understand that we have a difficult game ahead of us Saturday. We’ve had some big emotion with the Portland game and the Cup game, so now we have to understand that we have a tough game against Colorado and we have to come out here with everything we have and not let what’s happened in the last few weeks and months, how well we’ve been playing, think that we have a right to step on this field and just beat a team. If we come out flat, if we come out overconfident, then we’re going to get punished, and we don’t want that to happen.” — Goalkeeper Kasey Keller on possible retaliation.
“No, you have to move on. That happened a long time ago. That’s not going to bring Steve back for us. That’s not something that we’re focused on at all. Our focus is on playing well and getting another three points. We’re playing at home. Winning the season series with them, that’s what our focus is on.” — Schmid on concerns over retaliation.
“I can’t speak for what the referees are going to be looking for. I can tell you that never once have I heard anyone in our organization even allude to the idea of some sort of retaliation. I will absolutely say that we still haven’t stamped out what I would say is enough aggressive tackles, especially tackles from behind/from the side. I would be enthusiastic about continuing to push that and make it a safer environment for our players. But that said, certainly we’re not taking it on ourselves to do anything to change behavior, retaliate, or do anything other than play the game we play.” — Hanauer on if the refs might look closer at tackles anticipating retaliation.
“It’s up to Colorado. It depends on how they want to do that. I can understand both ways, that. ‘Look, we’ve got a job to do, he’s a pro, and if the team needs him, he needs to play.’ But I also understand if the team says, ‘Hey, maybe it’s a good thing if you don’t come on this trip.’ So either way, I understand.” — Keller on if it’s appropriate for Mullan to play.
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What are your thoughts?