NEW YORK – Colorado Rapids midfielder Brian Mullan was suspended 10 games Thursday and fined $5,000 for a hard tackle on Seattle's Steve Zakuani, leaving the Sounders young star with a broken right lower leg.
Major League Soccer's disciplinary committee announced the punishment and the Rapids said Mullan had decided not to appeal the decision. The 10 games includes the automatic one-game suspension Mullan received for being issued a red card.
"In situations such as this, the game is robbed of its brilliance. Steve Zakuani is a young, talented and highly entertaining player. He will be missed, and we all wish him a full and speedy recovery," Seattle general manager Adrian Hanauer said in a statement. "As a league, the commissioner has stated his intention to be more protective of dynamic, attacking players. Hopefully this suspension is a step in the right direction. However, the harsh reality of this situation is that no length of suspension will bring back Steve to action any faster."
The foul occurred early in last Friday's match when Mullan barged into Zakuani near the sideline. Zakuani's right leg was caught underneath him by the force of Mullan's tackle, breaking his tibia and fibula.
He was taken off the field on a stretcher and had surgery at Rose Medical Center in Denver, staying there until he returned to Seattle on Tuesday night.
Mullan issued an apology through his representatives Wednesday.
"It is with regret that my tackle resulted in the injury of Steve and I am deeply sorry to Steve and all those impacted by his injury," Mullan said in the statement.
Zakuani is in his third season with Seattle and was the Sounders' first pick in the 2009 MLS draft. The 23-year-old had 10 goals and six assists in 2010 after scoring four goals as a rookie.