Mullan slowly returning to starting lineup

Brian Mullan

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COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Brian Mullan is slowly but surely playing his way back to the form his Colorado Rapids teammates expect of him.

Mullan, who logged about 30 minutes as a second half substitute in the weekend’s 2-1 victory over Vancouver, has now played in three games since coming back from a 10-game suspension for his tackle on Seattle's Steve Zakuani. It’s been a bit of a stop-and-start rehabilitation for Mullan, who has been dealing with a back injury since his first game back against Columbus on June 26 and has yet to complete a full 90 minutes since his return.

That same injury kept him out of the road trip to Sporting Kansas City last week where the Rapids picked up a point in a 1-1 draw.

“I figure that playing regularly now, injuries are starting to flare up,” Mullan told MLSsoccer.com after the Vancouver game. “I just need to get back into the rhythm of the game.”

The veteran said that his back was feeling a lot better after the Vancouver game than it had been recently, and mentally, his game is also starting to take shape.

Mullan had said early on in the days after the Sounders game in April that he was feeling more reluctant to go into some tackles. This weekend he noted that his confidence was slowly returning.

“But only the sure tackles,” he said.

Despite head coach Gary Smith’s inclinations that the midfielder will unlikely make the trip to Seattle for this weekend’s game against the Sounders, he is keenly aware of Mullan’s steady transition.

“I think that two, three or four games down the line, we are probably going to see a slightly sharper, more natural Brian Mullan,” Smith said.