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AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu

It'd be nice in the aftermath of the Portland Timbers' 1-1 draw with the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday night to discuss an enjoyable and competitive soccer match.

It'd be nice to talk about how Fanendo Adi might be the best striker in MLS, or about how the arrival of Jack Jewsbury in the Timbers' 2016 lineup solidified Portland's recently porous defense, or about the late own goal that cost Portland two points.

But we won't talk about any of those things. Instead, we'll talk about a thug.

We have to talk about a disgusting tackle from soccer's most notorious hit-man. Nigel de Jong is famous for almost killing a player in the World Cup Final in 2010, and last night, he launched an obscene challenge on Darlington Nagbe that most likely broke the the US international's ankle.

The distinctions couldn't have been cleaner if they drawn up down the road in Hollywood. It was de Jong seriously injuring Nagbe — a player who has been named the winner of MLS' Fair Play award more times (twice) than he's been given a yellow card in his entire professional career (once.)

But beyond the numbers, what we who have watched Nagbe over the last six years know is that Nagbe is both the definition of a sportsman and the premier example in MLS of a player who needs to be kept on the field.

So in a year when MLS referees have given red cards for love taps, it was farcical that de Jong's X-rated tackle was punished with just a caution. He remained on the field as his team tied the game late, and when the match was over, he walked off the field to apologize to Nagbe. Not a single player from either team shook his hand.

Nagbe, unable to walk, exited in a wheelchair.

The hope is, of course, that Nagbe's ankle isn't broken. That he misses weeks instead of months, and that his career trajectory — one of the brightest in American soccer — continues unimpeded. The fear isn't even worth writing down. Just take one look at Steve Zakuani and you'll see a very clear illustration of what a tackle like this can do to a player's life.

But even if Nagbe ends up being okay, every measure — every measure — has to be taken to get this kind of butchery out of the game. de Jong should be suspended five games. At least.

When Nagbe crumpled, Diego Valeri — who knows the pain of a torn ACL — immediately ran to the sideline to get his teammate treatment and a substitute. A snarling Diego Chara, of course, was the first man in de Jong's face.

Said Chara of the situation after the match, "it's hard to maintain focus on the game." That's right. The worst feeling in soccer — worse than losing — is seeing a player seriously injured. Especially by another player.

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AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu

Darlington Nagbe has been fouled 350 times in the last five MLS seasons. Just three weeks ago, Nagbe was hacked by Real Salt Lake's Burrito Martinez. Martinez was also not given a red card, and was retroactively suspended by the MLS Disciplinary Committee. It's unacceptable.

Nagbe's durability, considering the beating he's taken over the years, has been one of his most impressive traits. He's bounced back after a number of gruesome challenges. This moment was a long time coming.

de Jong, amidst his extensive list, can claim another US national team midfielder as one of his victims. In 2010, the Dutchman broke Stuart Holden's leg in a March friendly. After the match, he said, ""Such offenses are part of football. I went for the ball and got the opponent at the end. I had no evil intent."

After this game, de Jong once again claimed that it was not his intention to foul. But Mike Magee, sitting uncomfortably next to Holden on the FOX Sports 1 set after the game, said there was no place for those kind of tackles in the game.

Nagbe accepted de Jong's apology, because of course he did, leading de Jong to tell the LA Galaxy website, "That's football... it's all good." He also called the tackle a "50-50." Credit to the Timbers players for not losing their minds and seeing out the match with class.

de Jong will never learn. He will continue to injure players until he retires, no matter how long his suspension is. Perhaps it escapes de Jong that no other player in the sport finds himself explaining away these gruesome moments as much as he does.

Sunday was a dark day for Bruce Arena, Chris Klein, and the Galaxy organization as well. They knew the risk when they brought de Jong in this winter, and shouldn't escape their share of the blame for their player's predictable actions.

There will be a time to talk about the soccer that was played at the StubHub Center — a game that might have been the Timbers' best performance of the season. In just two days, Portland will return home to play FC Dallas. They'll then play San Jose at Providence Park on Saturday. Nagbe will be watching from a suite.

LA's only visit to Portland this season will come on July 23rd. de Jong should get a Roger Levesque-esque welcome.

For now, though, the Timbers will have to survive without their favorite son.