Friday, April 29, 2011

Preserve Defence

Colorado's Brian Mullan has been suspended an additional nine matches and fined $5000 for his two footed slide tackle that broke Steve Zakuani's leg. This is outrageous and shows MLS continuing to remove defence from the league. Yes, it was a horrible tackle and worthy of both a straight red and the three match ban. However, every match 1000 tackles take place and we rarely see something like this happen. Not every tackle is a rush of the blood tackle like Mullan's had last week, but not every tackle is innocent either. Everyone wonders how Zakuani will recover and if his career will continue to rise as it has been. I on the other hand believe it will be Mullan's career that will take the dive. He now has nine matches off to think about breaking another man's leg. I highly doubt Mullan will play to the standard he has in the past and I'm afraid his career maybe the one that fades and not Zakuani's. He will be a marked man every time he attempts a tackle.

Again let me say this was a terrible incident, but soccer is a full contact sport and these things happen. In the NFL players repeatedly run into each other to inflict pain, and rare it is when the NFL suspends someone for injurying another player. It's only in recent year for NFL players to be punished for off field problems. This is an incident that happens in sports, and if the tackle had happened a second sooner or later we wouldn't be talking about it.

The bigger problem I think this uncovers is the league taking defensive football and tackling out of the league. This season already we have seen a copious amount of red cards for light tackles, and ridiculous decisions by referees are becoming the norm in the league. I feel there is a concerted effort by the league to inform their referees that not only will goal celebrations be unacceptable, tackles and physical play be unallowed but also the referees most help to keep parity alive with their ridiculous calls. Lets face it, if the league wasn't happy with the refereeing they'd do something about it. Yes, they've brought in some fresh referees the past week or two; but those newbies have called the matches in the same inconsistent way. The league wants to look like they're stepping into help, but in truth they're happy to stay the course. MLS resembles the WWE more than professional football making the referee to be the villian in the match.

Many critics of the refereeing this season say US based refs call it in a Latin style. But the truth is there is no style. Too many times this season we've seen referees call a match inconsisentantly giving a yellow card to a player only to give a warning to another player for the same foul; or to give a red card when a warning would suffice.

To continue my consirpacy theory, MLS has plenty of reasons to want defensive football out of the game. First of all, they have already stated the referees need to protect the playmakers and attackers of the league. But most importantly defensive football is being taken away from us, because it doesn't sell to American casual fans and even to American hardcore fans. The common complaint of Americans is soccer is boring. MLS is rectifying this, however, by allowing the referees to make dodgy decisions that enable teams to play with an extra man. Conventional thinking is the game would then become open and more flowing with one team scoring a load of goals. This does happen, for example Colorado 4-1 DC United, DC had a player sent off in the first 15 mins for a soft tackle. But typically, teams play more defensive as in Vancouver's 1-1 draw with New England when three players were sent off. Two of which for questionable, soft fouls that were more hard play than reckless abandon.

The league is taking football out of football. It is a physically demanding game on all fronts. It was a horrible tackle, there's no doubt, but football is football and these things happen.

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