Mullan: I’m sorry for Steve. It was never my intention to injure him


Brian Mullan: It’s a tackle that I’ve done hundreds of times

Colorado Rapids coach Gary Smith and captain Pablo Mastroeni were quick to defend Brian Mullan after the the tackle that saw the experienced midfielder sent off.

Neither complained about Mr Petrescu’s decision to award a red card and both were unambiguous in their view that no harm was intended.

Head Coach Gary Smith

On the injury to Steve Zakuani and the red card to Brian Mullan:

“Brian is not that sort of intending player, he’s very competitive. It was mistimed. I’m sure when I look back on it, the decision was right. We all certainly give our best wishes to (Steve) Zakuani for speedy recovery.

No one likes to see those sorts of injuries, no one likes to see anyone sent off. Brian’s a very genuine guy and I don’t think there is any serious intent there.”

On Fredy Montero’s goal:

“The goal that they scored was their first attack, and I would think their mindset changed a little bit when they scored. And after that they did a very good job of keeping their goal intact. I though the players attacked it well, with good energy, reasonable possession. I thought all in all we couldn’t threaten their goal enough and were not able to get back in it.”

On not being able to get back in it:

“Honestly I think there were so many things that didn’t go our way. I’m sure the call was right (red card), but going down to ten men after three minutes is certainly not going your way. I know we have our own control over that, but the goal was pretty soft. It goes through Matt’s (Pickens) legs. Maybe the fact he didn’t strike it properly was the problem.

There were so many things that weren’t right. I don’t know whether that was because of the injury, or we were playing a man down. Our final pass wasn’t good enough; when we got in good areas we never made enough of it – there wasn’t enough cutting edge. When we ended up 2-v-3, the inspiration to make the chance just wasn’t there tonight. Even the guys that came into the game, while they added some energy, the impact you’re looking for from guys like Sanna (Nyassi), who are very talented, wasn’t there. You’re asking a lot of these guys, with ten men and really playing against the odds, somebody’s got to step forward and make a name for themselves.”

Midfielder Brian Mullan

On the tackle to Steve Zakuani:

I’m sorry for Steve (Zakuani). It was never my intention to injure him in the least. It’s a tackle that I’ve done hundreds of times and would probably do again. I had no intention of hurting him. It’s a freak, freak thing, and I apologize and wish Steve a speedy recovery.”

Midfielder Pablo Mastroeni

On if the injury to Steve Zakuani affected the team:

“œObviously it affects anyone, regardless of what team your on you never want to see. It’s real unfortunate. I think at the end of the day, I think the response was great from the guys. We were able to find some decent possession on their side of the field with ten men, so I think we did a good job of quickly putting that behind us and focusing on the task at hand.”

On Brian Mullan:

”A guy of his character, I don’t think there’s any player in this league that for a second would think that Brian would egregiously attempt to hurt anyone. He’s a classy individual and has proven that over a great career. I think that even (Steve) Zakuani is a guy that would understand that Brian is a guy that plays hard all the time, and it was an unfortunate incident. But I don’t think for a second that anyone in this locker room, that other locker room (Seattle) or anyone in the league would think of Brian as a guy that has the propensity to do something like that.”

Related Articles:

A Seattle Ref Looks at Issues from the Zakuani Tackle

Match Report: Victory Comes at a Cost for Sounders

Photos of Sounders First Win in Colorado

Sigi: No player goes into a tackle trying to hurt a player


About Author

Steve is the founder and owner of Prost Amerika. He covered the expansion of MLS soccer in Cascadia at first hand. As Editor in Chief of, he was accredited at the 2014 World Cup Final. He is the former President of the North American Soccer Reporters Association/ Originally from Glasgow, he is a supporter of the Great Glasgow Alternative, Partick Thistle.


  1. What a sack of horse crap, the video tells a much different story than his words after the fact. This vicious assault should result in a new league policy, if you injure another player in a reckless, dangerous, intentionally or in a retaliatory act you will be banned as long as they player is out with an injury with a minimum ban of 3 matches.

    • Sorry Rod, but I have to take issue with you.

      Fans (of any side) attempting to create new football rules after wrongs done to their own team does lack a little credibility, doesn’t it?

      To be be honest, this is the sort of guff that gives a small minority of Sounders fans a bad name on the internet. Advocating changing the rules of football because something happened to your team lacks the remotest vestige of seriousness. The only sillier part would then be to suggest you retroactively apply this new rule but of course only to the player who fouled someone on your team, and not anywhere else.

      I’m not defending the tackle but rule changes cannot be made just because fans of one club want a dose of revenge.

  2. “I’m sorry for Steve (Zakuani). It was never my intention to injure him in the least. It’s a tackle that I’ve done hundreds of times and would probably do again. I had no intention of hurting him. It’s a freak, freak thing, and I apologize and wish Steve a speedy recovery.”-yet he would do it again?!? He must hang his boots up, for good.

  3. joshua atkinson on

    fuck this guy’s class! and do you believe for a second that former sounders players will give their all for a team with such classless players on it? no, nyassi and marshall have fought next to zak, if they have any character at all they wouldn’t give everything for this classless club. the fact that mastroeni would stick up mullan shows his lack of class and understanding of sportsmanship. fuck the rapids, this season is for zak! up the fucking sounders! take them all!

  4. While the tackle was vicious, it looks from the replay that Steve’s leg was planted at the time of the tackle. Had it not been planted I think the injury would have been less severe. This type of play deserves a minimum 4 game ban.

  5. Mullens challenge was obviously out of frustration due to a call he felt should have been made. MLS.coms post game summary even states as much. For Mullen to give an apology that sounds more about “cya” than genuine, is classless to say the least. Mr.Mullen should be punished based on his actions, which are clearly seen in the replay, & not his excuses or intentions. It’s being rumored a lengthy ban of 8-10 games, as a fan of MLS I would welcome that. Mullens comment proves to me that he is seriously lacking sportsmanship in this case & needs a wake up call.

  6. Steve:

    First, dont put words in my mouth.

    Second,it is not about revenge, and I am not suggesting that there is a retroactive rule change, that is unfair and against due process, but there should be a prospective rule change (if needed) if there is a relatively light ban over this. However, in the view of justice, I agree with Adrian, his ban should be equal to the amount of time the VICTIM of his ASSAULT is out. I highly doubt that will happen, probably because it is not currently within the league rules or procedures, so yes applying it would be arbitrary and capricious, even if it is morally correct to do so.

    Third, don’t even try to paint me with the brush you are using, you know better, save it for someone who complains about a marginal ref call. For someone who tries to claim moral high ground all the time, you are tending to step off it in your perceived defense of it.

    Lastly, I have always been one that firmly believes that dangerous intentional tackles that result in injury should receive a very harsh punishment. In this instance, this was not a case of a mis-timed tackle, Mullan was clearly head hunting, and weather it was Mullan or some other player, including a Sounder player (if they should do that in the future), there is no room in the sport for this. A relatively light two or six match ban does not carry the same consequence to the player who receives it as the player who is facing a potentially career ending injury that was intentionally inflicted. I have had a number of friends from Houston, who have fond memories of Mullan reach out to me with condolences, and expressions of anger and embarrassment at Mullan’s action, some of them are disowning him as a former dynamo player and say they lost all respect for him.

    As the MLS is still a developing top flight league this is a league defining moment, one way or another, and quite frankly if a particularly dirty player (i.e. Dema) for instance had done the same thing to intentionally to a Timber like Jewsburry or Cooper, or whoever, I would be saying the same thing. Hopefully the Soccer Don, will take this opportunity to shape the MLS into something better than it currently is.

  7. I guess you could weigh all of Mullan’s career in what kind of player he is but this was a retaliatory tackle. Watch the replay. He complained to the ref (like he usually does) that he got fouled and then with all of his anger went into a very stupid and vicious tackle.

    It should bring at least a 5-7 game suspension.

  8. “I’m sorry… I’d do it again” pretty much sums it up. That wasn’t an apology, that was making excuses. His inability to grasp the consequences of his reckless, angry response to not getting a callreinforces the fact that Mullan deserves an extremely long ban and league wide condemnation.

  9. So a retaliation tackle at the man and not the ball results in a possibly permanent injury to a promising player. If thats what you want for soccer, keep it up.

    Much about this reminds of Stoke’s Shawcross assault on Aaron Ramsey. Up to and including the “oh I didnt mean anything by it.” Of COURSE he meant it, thats why he did it. Dirty football is dirty football.

    MLS has an opportunity to do something about it, I hope they do.

  10. At least a two match ban above the single match ban from the Red he received. The video shows this wasn’t “a tackle I’ve done a hundred times” because of how high he came in on Steve. It was clearly outside the established rules of the game. CLEARLY. The rules are for player safety primarily and this was a clear violation of the rules.

    Two matches seems low, but I wouldn’t complain at all if it was as high as 5-7 matches.

  11. Well I don’t see reason for a new rule change… it’s already well within the authority of the league to issue a lengthier than the minimum one match ban for the red card. In fact that just happened to Cerrasco for his foolish tackle when the referee incorrectly assessed only a yellow but the league followed up with a ban and fine.

    To me the issue is more about the health of the league. We’ll never get superstars to play here as long as challenges like this go on without harsh penalty. I was prepared to forgive Mullan, but the fact that he admits to doing this many times in the past and promises to do so in the future, is a sign that he needs a long sit in the thinking chair.

    Lunging with two high feet a foot away from another player, virtually guaranteeing the entirety of your weight will land on their leg, is a clear attempt to hurt them in retaliation for his perceived no-call foul. Maybe he didn’t think he’d break Zak’s leg, but he definitely intended to leave a mark. Maybe he and Zak are simply unlucky that this is the result, but the result dictates the penalty, in soccer and the real world.

    All that said, expressing outrage at Mullan’s play is one thing. But some of the rhetoric really needs to be dialed down. I’d hate for Zak to see it as he’s the kind of guy that would be disappointed. He’s a turn the other cheek sort of guy.

    I’m confident that a man of his mental toughness is capable of a big return. I’m trying to put the sound of his breaking leg out of my mind by dreaming about the celebration we’ll have when he scores his next goal.

  12. Ban Mullan from MLS and make him clean the Sounders S*****s until Zakuani heals up, then, maybe let him be a ball boy. MLS, there are better players out there than this pathetic player.

  13. Anyone remember the tackle that put Revs Steve Ralston out for a year? Ozzie Alonso did it and none of us were calling for him to be out till Ralston recovered.

    We need to not only dial down the rhetoric as Derek says but also the hypocrisy. What are you going to say when a Sounder injures someone?

  14. @anon
    “Anyone remember the tackle that put Revs Steve Ralston out for a year? Ozzie Alonso did it and none of us were calling for him to be out till Ralston recovered.

    We need to not only dial down the rhetoric as Derek says but also the hypocrisy. What are you going to say when a Sounder injures someone?”

    Anon, do you remember how Ralston got injured? Yeah, he jumped up for a 50/50 ball with Alonso and then landed on his leg wrong. You consider that a dangerous reckless foul by Alonso? Give me a break.

  15. Ben,

    I never said anything like that at all. By all means make up fake points and then argue with yourself. Don’t bring others into it. I’m specifically addressing the idea that a player should be banned for a length of time based on an injury, and pointing out how idiotic a statement it is. Nothing else.