Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Suspending Stars' Attackers

Javier Morales is the latest victim of MLS's rough play.

Chivas USA's Marcos Mondaini slid into Morales from behind and took out the RSL star. Mondaini broke Morales' ankle and the injury required surgery and will knock him out of action for at least four months, possibly the rest of the season.

Morales joins David Ferreira and Steve Zakuani on the sidelines, and if you add Branko Boskovic to the mix (the DC midfielder was victim of a tackle during a USOC match and tore knee ligaments as a result of it) then you have a handful of standouts who will no longer be able to play with their teams.

Is the league's rough play finally coming to the forefront? Or are these just isolated incidents that all happened to come together at the same time?

Whatever the case, suspensions are one way to prevent would-be tacklers from going at other players too viciously. Tackles are a part of the game but not every tackle needs to result in an injury, let alone a catastrophic one. Brian Mullan, who took out Zakuani with a grisly tackle, was slapped with a record 10-match suspension and fined $5,000.

Will the league follow suit and slap Mondaini with a 10-match ban?

I don't see the same circumstances at all in play with regards to the two tackles. Mullan looked angry at not having gotten a call and seemed bent on taking someone out. Mondaini looked more like a clumsy oaf lunging at a ball.

A three-match ban would be fair for Mondaini, but a ban of up to five games might be reasonable. Anything more is overreaction, not just because of what happened to Zakuani but what happened to Ferreira and what could happen to the next name player.

Having said that, I expect the league to overreact and give Mondaini seven games. For the record, Jonathan Leathers who took out Ferreira with a tackle, was not suspended and was not even called for a foul on the play. After all, not all tackles are dirty, nor are they vicious. There is a fine line between tackles and there's even a finer line between dirty tackles like Mullan's and clumsy tackles like Mondaini's.

The hope is this trend of stars falling by the wayside ends.

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