Chivas USA forward Marcos Mondaini had nothing to say Thursday after he was suspended four games and fined $1,500 for injuring Real Salt Lake's Javier Morales last weekend.
Or if he had something to say, he was instructed to forget it.
Mondaini, club sources acknowledged, was told not to speak to the media about Saturday's gruesome foul, which left Morales with two broken bones and torn ligaments in his left ankle. The Argentine midfielder, MLS's premier playmaker, is expected to be sidelined about five months.
Mondaini, also from Argentina, received a red card on the play, and Major League Soccer's disciplinary committee added to the automatic one-game suspension and $250 fine that accompanies all expulsions.
Goats coach Robin Fraser said the club would not appeal the sanctions, which are seen as too lenient in some quarters -- especially among those connected or close to Real Salt Lake, which has lost its best player -- and far too harsh in others.
The foul was not as brutal as the result made it appear, and the length of the suspension seems to have as much to do with Morales' injury, with how ugly it looked -- his ankle was turned outward nearly 90 degrees -- and with tackles that have injured other top MLS players this year than it did with the actual infraction. Mondaini was initially assessed a yellow card on the play, changed to red after the extent of Morales injury was clear, and RSL coach Jason Kreis said after the game that he did not consider the tackle to be “egregious.”
Mondaini wouldn't say, but teammate Alejandro Moreno reported that the Chivas forward had talked twice this week with Morales, checking in to see how he was doing and again offering apologies. Mondaini apologized publicly immediately after Saturday's game.
Fraser's response to the sanctions: “It is what it is, and we respect what the league has done, and at the end of the day, I just wish Javier the very best.”
IN SALT LAKE: Things are looking better in Salt Lake City, where fears Morales might be lost for the season were assuaged by successful surgery Monday. RSL's players were given an additional day off to cope with the emotional facet of his injury, and captain Kyle Beckerman told the Deseret News that it “seems like Javy's in really good spirits, so that helps me out, and I'm sure that helps out the rest of the guys, too.”
“Javier is a real positive guy, he's got a real positive outlook on everything he does, and he attacks things with a good vigor,” Kreis told the newspaper. “So I think he's going to handle this rehab situation the exact same way.”
RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando, who is from Montclair and starred at UCLA, said his wife, former pro player Jacqui Little (from Pacific Palisades), was sitting behind Morales' wife and 4-year-old son when the injury occurred. Morales' wife, he told the newspaper, broke down in tears, and the boy was scared.
“On the family side of that,” Rimando said, “it's terrible when you see somebody's wife cry or kid cry. That's the last thing you want to see.”
Fraser, an assistant coach for RSL before taking Chivas' reins in January, has a close relationship with Morales and said it “was a very difficult thing to see happen to Javier.” He got in touch with Morales after the game.
“He's a tremendous person,” Fraser said. “Everyone sees Javier the great player, but I know Javier the great person, so it was an extremely difficult thing to see. … He's a person I feel a great deal or respect and affinity for. I wanted him to know that, so I contacted him.”
WORTH NOTING: Justin Braun, Chivas' top scorer last season, is almost certain to step into Mondaini's spot alongside Moreno at the top of the Goats' 4-4-2, diamond-midfield alignment. Zarek Valentin likely will move into the middle in place of Andy Boyens, who ejected against RSL after picking up two yellow cards in the first 25 minutes, with Michael Lahoud, back from a concussion, possible at right back. … Chris Cortez's situation could be worked out soon. The forward from Mission Viejo, in camp with Chivas since early in preseason, has scored four goals for the reserve side (approved trialists are eligible for the games), and one thing the first teams needs is a goalscorer. Mexican club Pachuca, it appears, holds his rights, so Goats GM Jose Domene is trying to work out a deal.