COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – The Colorado Rapids trained Tuesday under leaden skies, and the one player conspicuously absent was Brian Mullan.
And the veteran midfielder, at the center of a controversy after his tackle last Friday night resulted in the broken leg of Seattle Sounders midfielder Steve Zakuani, may be out for some time, according to Rapids head coach Gary Smith.
The Major League Soccer Disciplinary Committee is expected to rule on any punishment for Mullan on Tuesday. Smith said he thinks a suspension of two to three games on top of the automatic suspension for Mullan’s red card would be appropriate, but given Mullan’s current state of mind, he may well be out for longer than any suspension.
“The guy is distraught about it,” Smith said at training Tuesday, adding that Mullan is seeking counseling in the aftermath of the incident. “He is visibly shaken and there is no way he can train. I said to him to take some time off to try and come to terms with it, and I don’t think he is going to be ready for quite a while.
“It was an over-zealous, late challenge and it deserves a suspension.” Smith said of the tackle. “It is a situation that nobody wants to see.”
"There's no doubt it was a sending-off (infraction)," Smith told The Denver Post. "There's no doubt he should get a suspension, and if the panel want to add an extra couple of games, I think that's acceptable. What I'm getting frustrated about are a multitude of people that are calling for Brian to be drawn and quartered."
Smith said Mullan has been in contact with Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid to try and arrange a meeting with Zakuani, but that has not yet transpired. Schmid coached Mullan when the two overlapped careers with the LA Galaxy in 2001-02.
Rapids newcomers Tyrone Marshall and Sanna Nyassi – who played with Zakuani on the Sounders last year before coming to Colorado during the offseason – have been to visit their former teammate in the Denver hospital where he had surgery.
Conor Casey, meanwhile, continues to rehab his hamstring and is not expected back with the group until next week at the earliest. Caleb Folan and Marvell Wynne are also nursing tight muscles and did not train on Tuesday. The Rapids host the Chicago Fire on Saturday before embarking on a three-game road trip.
GARY SMITH DEFENDS BRIAN MULLAN AFTER TACKLING INCIDENT (DENVER POST)