What Should Mondaini’s Punishment Be for Morales Tackle?

Posted on by Robert Hay

Another week, another MLS star goes down with broken bones.  This time it was Javier Morales who is out for months after Marcos Mondaini made an aggressive challenge on the midfielder in front of the Chivas net.  Morales cut back towards the goal from the wing and Mondaini, beaten on the play, went to ground and caught Morales’ lower leg in between his own, sending the RSL player down in pain.  The referee initially brandished a yellow card, but upon closer inspection of the injury, issues a straight red and sent the Chivas forward off.

You can see the video here.  Warning – the video shows the injury from multiple angles and in slow motion, in addition to in real time.  The video is not for the faint of heart, and be warned it is very graphic.

At this point, MLS is still considering punishment for the tackle; Mondaini will certainly get a game for the red card.  But how long should the punishment be, now that we have the precedent of the Brian Mullan suspension of ten games for his tackle on Steve Zakuani?  There are arguments to be made that it should be shorter and longer than Mullan’s.

Mondaini’s punishment should be equal to or longer than ten games:

  • The tackle was intentional.  He was certainly beaten by Morales and right before the tackle looks to try and tug on the jersey to bring him down.  Mullan’s was also an intentional tackle, due to the fact he had just lost the ball.  MLS has to hand out lengthy suspensions to prevent beaten defenders from taking down quicker players if it is serious about preventing injuries.
  • Maybe the video missed it, but Mondaini showed little remorse for the tackle.  On the field he may have tried to check on on Morales but was seen on video just walking off after he was moved away my teammates.  His apology after was bland.
  • Going off the first point, this is the third major injury to a prominent player in two weeks.  Don Garber spoke before the season about the importance of protecting star players; he needs to come down hard on this play to show he is very serious.

On the other hand, Mondaini deserves a more lenient punishment than Mullan:

  • The injury was less severe than the Zakuani injury.  Although his leg is pointing at a 45 degree angle, Morales only broke some bones in his ankle.  Zakuani snapped two bones in his leg, a much more serious injury with a much longer recovery time.
  • The tackle looks worse in retrospect than it did at the time.  Referee Paul Ward initially gave a yellow on the injury.  Even Jason Kreis said he did not see the tackle as malicious, according to ESPN: “To be honest, I didn’t think it was the most flagrant of fouls.  It was from behind, which we’re trying to get out of the game. It’s in the attacking third, and Javi was clearly getting ready to shoot. I understand the urgency of the situation from the defender trying to make the play, and I really don’t think it was that egregious.”
  • There was a similar situation that occurred recently in MLS, and it was the David Ferreira tackle.  Ferreira broke his ankle on a tackle from behind by Jonathan Leathers; Leathers was not disciplined for the tackle.

What do you think Marcos Mondaini’s punishment should be?

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20 Responses to What Should Mondaini’s Punishment Be for Morales Tackle?

  1. francesco says:

    The one argument your article misses is the precedent MLS tried to set with Mullan’s 10 game suspension. Should the league give anything less than 10 games it would seem quite soft and inconsistent. If Don Garber was serious about protecting the stars of MLS he has to give Mondaini 10 games at a minumum.

  2. Earl Reed says:

    Mondaini’s tackle was a little more cynical, and typically a tackle from behind is well known for being a tackle meant to injure. In that regard, it was clear his intention was to take down Morales. I say at least 12 matches for Mondaini.

    • Nussdorfer AC says:

      Couldn’t agree more. It has been said Mondaini didn’t “intend” to injure him and this is a strawman argument. The point is that he had already made a few tough fouls in the game, he was clearly beaten, he had no chance to make a play on the ball, and he made a dangerous tackle from behind.

  3. Alan says:

    At least 10 games.

  4. The original Tom says:

    Mullen’s wasn’t from behind so at least it could construed as a mistimed tackle. This tackle had no chance of contact with the ball. On the other hand, this tackle wasn’t as hard as Mullens- Mullen clearly intended to send a message- albiet by making firm contact with the ball and the man. I’d say 10 games for this tack- not as hard but even more cynical.

    • dan says:

      wtf are u talking about? Mullan clearly was trying to win the ball, he underestimated Zakuani’s pace. In NO PART in this world would anyone argue that a tackle from behind is not cynical. This is the worst tackle of the year by miles.

  5. ELAC says:

    Seems like anti-Chivas USA bias. So we should reward soft play and diving now too?

    • Earl Reed says:

      Wow, anti-Chivas USA? Well then fine, let’s give Marcos a gold star for sawing off one of the more talented player’s ankle. Give him a national holiday? I mean, a tackle from behind is probably the cheapest and most notorious of tactics intended to halt a player in his tracks.

      If Mullan’s tackle needs a message, then Mondaini’s needs even more of one in my book simply because it was 100% clear that his intention was to take down Morales. In my opinion, you have to make players understand that they are risking harsh punishment should they chance the type of cynical tackle that at best serves to end a player’s run.

      • dan says:

        if anything this shows bias to Seattle. Mullan was WAY too harshly punished for a mistimed tackle. If 10 games is the way it is then this deserves 15. MLS and Garber f*ed up with giving Mullan 10 so now the rest of the league has to pay the dues for consistency.

        I just wonder if a Pac NW player did this sorta tackle what would happen to them?

    • Becs says:

      Anybody that was watiching The RSL Chivas game could tell that the Chivas defense kept commiting flagrant fouls in the box. I think that if the first tackle on Saborio would have spurred a red card rather than the yellow then the Chivas players would have cleaned up their act and Morales would not have been injured.
      The game is now over and MLS has to send a message, I don’t think the attack looked malicious, however it was reckless. I think 8 games is sufficient.

  6. WSW says:

    and no pay for 2 weeks.

  7. Dave C says:

    Ouch, that looked nasty, and a really dumb foul by Mondaini – from that angle, there was no chance he could get the ball (not to mention the distance put it way out of reach, regardless of the angle).

    But at the same time, I think it’s ridiculous that the severity of the injury should determine the punishment. The punishment is for the foul (i.e. the breaking of the rules), not for the largely fluke-result of the outcome. There’s no way that two identical fouls should be penalized differently just because one victim is lucky enough to walk away, while the other ends up with a broken leg.

    In that respect, I think the ref has made a HUGE mistake if your account of the event is correct – he showed a yellow card, and then when he realized how bad the injury was, he changed it to a red. That’s shocking. Either it’s a yellow, regardless of the injury, or it’s a red, even if the guy was unscathed (FWIW, I think it’s undoubtedly a red because it’s a tackle from behind, right through the man, with no intention to play the ball).

    Also, is it true that a broken ankle is less severe than a broken leg? I was under the impression that it was the opposite, since an ankle break is more likely to affect all the various ligaments, tendons and moving parts in the ankle, which are often involve more rehab than a simple bone break.

    • Robert Hay says:

      Excellent point regarding the referee Dave C. I am almost never a fan of an official changing a call after seeing the extent of a possible injury, no matter how bad, because that sets a terrible precedent. Better to wait before pulling out a card than to quickly do so. He should have focused on calling for the appropriate medical staff, separating the teams, then handing out punishment.

      According to what I’ve read, MLS Disciplinary cannot take action unless the official hands out a red card, so Ward’s change of mind may have been fortuitous for MLS. Correct me if this is wrong.

      • Dave C says:

        Better to wait before pulling out a card than to quickly do so
        Actually I’d take the opposite view – the ref shouldn’t wait to see how bad an injury is before deciding what action to take. A tackle from behind with no hope of playing the ball should be a red. The ref shouldn’t bide his time until he can see the injury, and then decide which card to hand out.

        • dan says:

          agreed 100%

          MLS isn’t exactly famous for our refs tho… Hell the whole N. America isn’t. We are pathetic in refereeing, none of ours was used in World Cup. That should say enough. Why isn’t Gullati and CONCACAF working on this?

          • Robert Hay says:

            I think I misspoke – the referee should not wait to show a card to assess the injury’s impact, he should take control of the situation and issue a card based on the play. If you watch the video, his first instinct is pull out a card. Meanwhile there’s a fight going on right next to the injured player. He should have called for the medic, broken up the fight, then called over Mondaini to give a card.

  8. dan says:

    MLS messed up BIG with Mullan’s suspension. His tackle on Zakuani has been the least cynical of all of them so far yet he got the worst punishment? Typical Garber kissing Seattle’s ass.

    This is the worst tackle thus far. If you are going to suspend Mullan for 10 then you need to be consistent with the rest.

    …funny isn’t it? The year the refs are being harsher with cards and physical play the most big time injuries are occurring. Interesting article to figure out why this is…

  9. kingsnake says:

    Four Legs in MLS, to the tune of CSNY’s “Ohio”.


    Horror tackles and Garber fiddling …

  10. Brandon Dieni says:

    Just watched the video and just saw that he got a fine and 4 game suspension. Way too lenient. All the points above are good but I think maybe you failed to mention that Mondaini did not even come close to making a play on the ball. This was a frustration tackle and, yes, based on your previous comment concerning Mondaini’s lack of remorse, I feel that he should have been suspended even longer than 4 games. In fact, I would say that his tackle is worse than Mullen’s as Mondaini did this out of anger and frustration at getting beaten rather than a legit chance to make a defensive play.

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