While Week 8 of the MLS regular season featured a much-anticipated match up between the Los Angeles Galaxy and the New York Red Bulls, it was another alarming trend that took center stage by week's end.
In a matter of three weeks three major MLS stars were taken out of commission for the foreseeable future. None of them went down with blown knees, old bodies or even pulled muscles. They all fell victim to hard, and to what some would say, unnecessary tackles.
It all started two-and-half-weeks ago in the Colorado Rapids' home game against the Seattle Sounders when Brian Mullan went in for a hard tackle against Seattle's Steve Zakuani and snapped Zakuani's leg. Just three minutes into the game, Mullan lost his composure and made an conceived challenge. How does that happen?
Reigning MVP David Ferreira of FC Dallas was next to fall victim when he was taken down early in the second half of his match against the Vancouver Whitecaps. He was taken down after he had clearly beaten his defender who eventually took him down and out.
Lastly, RSL's Javier Morales went down Saturday's contest against Chivas USA. Just past the midway point of the first half, Morales beat forward Marcos Mondaini and was lining up a shot when Mondaini cut Morales down from behind. Mondaini made no play on the ball and was only trying to slow Morales down. Unfortunately for RSL, Mondaini succeeded and Morales will likely miss the rest of the season with a dislocated/broken ankle.
Watching these tackles back-to-back is like was like watching a slasher movie. Instead of young coeds getting the axe it was the legs of MLS All-Stars being brutally broken. Naturally, it raises the question of what is Major League Soccer going to do?
Many feel that Mondaini's tackle deserves a greater suspension than Mullan's 10-game suspension. That, however, is only a retroactive solution. The real question is how can the league prevent this?
The answer? Better officiating.
Officiating in the MLS has been anything but consistent and now players are getting hurt. Officials have the duty to not only call the match fairly, but also to protect the players on the field. Right now they could be doing a much better job in each.
Now, I am not blaming the officials for each injured player. I am only asking the league take a good hard look at what can be done to prevent these types of plays from happening in the future.
After the recent events, don't the players and fans at least deserve that?