Seattle ended the road trip in Colorado last night, taking on the current MLS Champion Rapids on a hot streak. The Sounders haven’t lost in four games and came in healthier than they have been since the beginning of the season with Fredy Montero finally healthy enough to get back in the starting lineup.
The Rapids, on the other hand, had lost their last two and were looking to get back to their winning ways.
The match started physical, with the first foul coming 31 seconds after the opening whistle. That was nothing compared to what happened less than three minutes later though.
Sounders forward Steve Zakuani had possession and was streaking forward while Rapids midfielder Brian Mullan tried to keep up. Mullan was losing to the speedy Zakuani and an unnecessary as well as wickedly vicious cowardly late tackle took out Zakuani.
Emotions flared, Mullan was red carded immediately and Zakuani was stretchered to the hospital. X-rays showed that he has a broken tibia and fibula in his right leg.
Mullan is the leader for the cards for the Rapids and although the announcers said he’s not a dirty player, there was no need for that tackle. He didn’t slide, he took Zakuani’s legs out completely.
The Sounders definitely found inspiration from the injury and attacked aggressively.
In the 19th minute, after sustaining pressure, the Sounders broke through. O’Brian White took the ball at midfield and raced downfield along the right flank, finding Mauro Rosales. Rosales continued down the right side, drawing in all three Colorado defenders before he centered the ball to a wide open Montero at the top of the box.
Montero slotted home almost casually his first league goal since August 28 against Chicago.
Colorado showed a lot of talent despite being down to 10 men for the vast majority of the match, especially late. Seattle held on to get their first shutout of the season and to extend their unbeaten streak to five, also the longest in the league.
It was good seeing former Sounders Tyronne Marshall and Sanna Nyassi playing. Also, ECS, the Emerald City Supporters, deserve a mention for traveling well and vocally supporting the Sounders. Their chant for Steve Zakuani as he was stretchered off was loud and proud. I’m sure it gave Zakuani some comfort in what had to be a very scary time.
For my Man Of The Match, I have to give the honor to Steve Zakuani.
Although he was injured in the third minute, it was obvious that he inspired the team. He is such a young great talent and a well loved member of the Sounders that he will be severely missed.
As for Brian Mullan, I don’t know what his punishment will be but it should be a long one. I don’t see enough of the Rapids to know if he is a dirty player or just a hard physical player but that tackle was a disgusting attack on an unsuspecting opponent. In my mind, Mullan should be suspended for at least as long as Zakuani is out.
I saw a video of Mullan posted after the match where he apologized. I’m glad he did but he needs to have a lot of time off to reflect on how he plays.
If Zakuani’s career has been ended, then perhaps others will play a little more cleanly in the future.
Coming up, the Sounders return home to Seattle to take on the Toronto FC on April 30.
Photo credit: KARL GEHRING/APPowered by Sidelines