It might be hard to believe, but it has been almost one year since FC Dallas midfielder Richard Mulrooney tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. The injury -- which occurred at Spartan Stadium in his first game against his former team, the San Jose Earthquakes -- caused him to miss the rest of last season, his first with the Hoops, and has also seen him miss the first three games of this season.
It has been a long road back, but Mulrooney sees considerable progress.
"It (my recovery) is coming along," he said. "Obviously, it's been a long time since I stepped on the field and played. Every week, I think I see progress. But at the same time, I haven't played any in a year and I've still got a lot of things to integrate back into the system in terms of learning the game on and off the field again."
Hoops head coach Colin Clarke has also noted his progress.
"His body is going to let him know and his legs are going to let him know when he's ready to go," he said. "You can see him out there and he's getting better and stronger every day. There's a marked improvement from last week to this week. It's day to day. We'll keep pushing him and pushing him hard. We'll get him some time in the reserves and ease him back into it."
Prior to his injury last season, Mulrooney had established himself as a strong midfield presence for the Hoops. Besides starting the first seven games of 2005, he had two goals and two assists after starting his FC Dallas career by getting his first goal in the second minute of the season opener at the Cotton Bowl against Chicago.
He also recently reached another benchmark in his recovery as he was part of the traveling party last weekend against Colorado.
"It (traveling with the team to Colorado) brought a smile to my face," he said. "Knowing that I'm getting that much closer and being able to become part of the team again is great. I've been part of the team even since I got hurt but at the same time, not being able to contribute on the field, it's hard to feel like you're part of it. I'm starting to feel like that again."
Mulrooney also admits the entire experience has given him perspective.
"It's a humbling experience," he said. "It (the ACL) is such a small part of your body. But for soccer players and for most other athletes, it's a big part. To have that happen to me, it definitely brought me down to earth in terms of thinking you're not invincible and you can't play this game forever. I've got to enjoy it while I can."
Steve Hunt is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.