WASHINGTON - JUNE 5: D.C. United fans hold a banner for Bryan Namoff during game against Real Salt Lake during a MLS soccer match on June 5, 2010 at RFK Stadium in Washington D.C. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

DC United announced today that right back Bryan Namoff has suspended his playing career and will join the club's front office. This is sad news for United fans; Namoff was a favorite among the faithful, a warrior on the field, and a leader on the team. The reason behind Namoff's step back is undoubtedly related to the concussion he received last September.

Add Namoff to list that includes Alecko Eskandarian and Taylor Twellman*, all added within the last year; though none has officially retired (that I'm aware of), they've each taken an indefinite leave of absence due to brain injury-related complications. It's safe to assume that all three would prefer to be on the field but have found the risk to be too great.

For United, this isn't a first; midfielder Josh Gros retired in 2007 after accumulating several concussions.

The natural question, as presented by Hoover on Twitter, is why there are so many MLS players being forced off the field. Without a single European player in the same boat as Esky, Twellman, and Namoff coming to mind, is this strictly an American epidemic? Do other leagues not have concussed players who might be better off retiring?

Stefan Bondy tackled the concussion issue back when Eskandarian announced his leave of absence. What strikes me about the article is that Bondy's approach contrasted programs enacted by MLS and the NFL; nowhere does he mention the Premier League, Serie A, the Bundesliga, La Liga, or any other soccer league for that matter. If you didn't know better, it might be easy to conclude that MLS players are the only ones getting concussions.

That's clearly nonsense. Every league has head clashes and dirty fouls involving elbows and fists. Pure chance means at least one or two players will have sustained a mild or worse concussion in the course a season. Yet a search of Google with the terms "concussion" and "Premier League" returns just one mention of an actual concussion suffered by an EPL player in the first three pages, Emile Heskey's "mild concussion" in 2009.

Search "concussion" and "MLS", and you'll find link after link on the aforementioned players, notes on the league's approach to concussions in the sport in various stories on the subject, as well as reports on concussions suffered by other players in recent years. I don't know that MLS is taking concussions "seriously enough", because that may be a sliding scale depending on your viewpoint, but they're certainly much more transparent with their consideration of the issue than the biggest league in the world.

This topic deserves a deeper look, and a simple Google search doesn't really provide information of any substance. Logic tells me other leagues have concussed players in comparable numbers to MLS, but looking for evidence of that fact in the public domain yields little to work with. I felt it important enough to present the question, but I hesitate to draw any hard conclusions.

Obvious factors to consider include greater pressure on players abroad to continue playing with concussion symptoms, America's greater level of attention to post-concussion syndrome (in part due to American football), and the players themselves placing more weight on their post-soccer lives. None of these guys are so married to soccer than they can't appreciate the damage they might do if they return to the field; in some cases it's a matter of finding a doctor who will clear them, but in others it's a healthy appreciation of what multiple concussions can do to one's quality of life.

So what do we make of this? Is it simply that the American mindset regarding the seriousness of concussions is further along (the direction I lean) or is it actually possible MLS play creates them in higher numbers and greater severity (enough to push players to stop playing)?

*It's necessary to note that Twellman is also dealing with neck injuries.
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