COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Columbus Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer congratulated Brian Mullan on his great strike Friday after the game. The Rapids midfielder told him such a goal probably wouldn’t happen again any time in the near future.
In truth, Mullan rarely finds himself on the game stats list. Friday night was one of the rare occasions where his other qualities were outshone by a wonderful shot from outside the penalty area which gave the Rapids a 1-0 lead in the 55th minute, putting them on their way to a 2-0 win. It was Mullan’s first goal for the Rapids since he moved to the club in September 2010.
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“He’s just one of those guys, he’s a winner,” defender Drew Moor told MLSsoccer.com. “When the ball is around him, good things seem to happen. He’s tenacious, he’s a good passer of the ball, he plays both offense and defense and we learned tonight he can score a pretty good goal as well.
“You’re not going to see him on the score sheet much, you’re not going to notice him much but, when you play with him, you have so much respect for him. He has such a positive influence.”
Mullan, who has endured a difficult season following a 10-game suspension for the tackle that broke Seattle Sounders midfielder Steve Zakuani’s leg April 22, clearly enjoyed the moment as he celebrated the goal with his equally ecstatic Rapids teammates.
“I wouldn’t say that goal makes up for everything but it definitely contributes,” Mullan said. “I saw that [Crew defender Josh] Gardner was 15 yards away and I just tried to put it by his right ear and it happened. It rarely does but it happened that time.”
Rapids head coach Gary Smith said it was probably the best goal of Mullan’s career.
“I mean that is as clean as they come,” Smith said. “If there hadn’t been a net in the back of the goal, it would still be rising now.”
More importantly, the Rapids felt Friday was one of the best team performances of the season. Moor described it as a “complete game.” Smith said, barring the explosive attacking display against the New York Red Bulls July 20, it was the best performance at home this year with energy and tenacity throughout the game as well as good game management when the team was 2-0 up with 10 minutes to go following the second goal from Omar Cummings.
Cummings, who again combined well with Sanna Nyassi, scored his first goal in four months when he took a pass from the Gambian and coolly slotted it past Hesmer to clinch the win.
“I thought it would just be a matter of time,” Cummings said of his goal drought. “It was a pretty straightforward chance, so no worries.”
Cummings tried several times to get Nyassi in behind the Crew defense as he has done successfully a few times since the duo first played together in the New York game that saw Nyassi score a hat trick.
Against the Crew, Nyassi returned the favor for Cummings with a short pass to the Jamaican’s right foot inside the penalty area.
Man of the Match Mullan said he is enjoying working with the speed of Nyassi and Cummings, adapting his game to try and make early crosses in behind the defense rather than playing to a target man like Conor Casey. Overall, the veteran liked the way the team played and hoped there would be more of the same going forward even if he doesn’t score a golazo every time out.
“I felt like the team moved the ball really well tonight,” he said. “I felt like there was a lot of space, a lot of time and a lot of options when the ball came around.”
The Rapids, now with four wins in the past six games, next play San Jose away on August 13.