Sounders midfielder Mauro Rosales suffered an injury during Seattle's 3-0 win over DC United after DCU defender Daniel Woolard made a late and unpunished challenge in the dying moments of the game. According to coach Sigi Schmid the injury is an MCL sprain, an injury that could keep Rosales out of action for a month or more.
Predictably, Schmid was less than thrilled with the performance of referee Kevin Stott:
"The league's got to start protecting him. The last two games teams have gone out there and kicked him, and I don't think the referees have done a good job protecting him. Today was a case in point. We're up on top of the game 3-0 and he's got the ball at his feet and it's a tackle that's just meant to get a little kick in. And who knows how long he's out now? We have a talented player in this league, a player who's a good player, who fans want to come and watch play, then we let thugs hit him and we don't protect him enough. I think that's something that's got to happen with the referees. I'm very disappointed with the last two games. The last game before this one, the first three times he touched the ball he got fouled and nothing got called. Today early on he got dumped and quite a few times he's not getting calls. I'd like to see the referee Kevin Stott stand there and let Brandon McDonald run into his back and see if he could stay on his feet. I'm very disappointed in that."
Schmid has every reason to be upset. The Sounders have lost numerous skill players due to poor challenges, most notably the season ending injury to Steve Zakuani in early April but including previous injuries to Rosales, Fredy Montero and Erik Friberg. The league is at a very important stage in its development; some very good, very skillful players want to be here, but without adequate enforcement of the rules and severe punishment for reckless play that won't last for very long, It certainly hasn't been the Sounders alone that have suffered this season either; FC Dallas, Real Salt Lake, and DC United (among others) have lost very special players due to overly physical challenges. The league and more importantly the US Soccer Federation are going to have to decide what's more important; "letting games flow" or protecting the league's best players from unfair challenges.