Mullan, Zakuani find closure in post-game gesture

Players embrace after exchanging jerseys in Zakuani's first game back since his injury

Brian Mullan and Steve Zakuani embrace - July 7, 2012

Photo Credit: 
ColoradoRapids.com

Two moments in the Rapids match at Seattle Saturday night will be remembered much longer than any of the goals or other plays: when Sounders winger Steve Zakuani entered the field in the 86th minute, and after the final whistle, when Zakuani and Colorado midfielder Brian Mullan exchanged jerseys and embraced at midfield.

Last April, Zakuani sustained multiple leg fractures and related injuries on a challenge from Mullan in a match at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Colorado. Saturday was Zakuani's first match since that horrific injury.

"It was actually harder than it was last time [we played here], knowing that Steve [Zakunai] was here on the roster and hoping he was going to play," Mullan said afterwards about his emotions.

The two players had yet to talk in person since the injury, though they had spoken on the phone before. Zakuani was stil recovering and not yet ready to play when the Rapids traveled to Seattle in April.

With the Sounders leading 2-1, Zakuani entered the match to thunderous applause from the home crowd. The two players finally found closure after the match.

"I have said from day one that I do not have any issues with (Mullan)," Zakuani told the media after the match. "I forgave him a long time ago, but I think it is good for the public to see, for closure. Now I think that he can go on with his career and I can start to do the same...He took my shirt home and I am taking his shirt home and I think that chapter is closed now."

"It was a great moment for him," Mullan said of their embrace. "I didn’t want to take anything away from it. I just told him welcome back."

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