COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Brian Mullan’s resume is hard to beat. Five MLS titles. Three hundred-plus career games over 13 seasons. Twenty-nine career MLS goals.
Soon, however, it could all be over for the Colorado Rapids veteran midfielder, affectionately known by his teammates as “champ” for those five titles. Now 35 years old and limited to a bench role for most of this year, the Colorado native is contemplating retirement after a frustrating season and knee problems that have taken their toll over time.
“I’ve definitely thought about it,” Mullan told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday about considering retirement. “I can’t say I want my career to end like this, but yeah, I’ve thought about it.
“I think I’d like to play one more year, maybe, and end it on a better note. Just go into it understanding what my role is. ”
Mullan will make his decision soon – possibly as early as this week – but he said he will only play for Colorado, where he and his family reside and where he was raised. He’s played for the LA Galaxy, San Jose Earthquakes, Houston Dynamo and the Rapids over 13 eventful seasons that include the highs of his titles, as well as the low of his infamous 2011 tackle of Seattle’s Steve Zakuani that resulted in a 10-game suspension.
Mullan, however, hinted at frustration with his role this season. After spending almost his entire career as a midfielder, he was switched to right back for part of the end of last season and full-time during this preseason, yet he hasn’t made an appearance in over three months, partially due to injury but mostly by coach’s decision.
Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja has preferred youngster Shane O’Neill at center back, pushing the speedy Marvell Wynne to right back and forcing the veteran Mullan to the bench, and often out of the 18-man gameday roster.
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“I just got to see where [the technical staff's] heads are at,” Mullan said of returning. “Just talk to Bravo and the coaches and see what’s going on.”
Mullan indicated that if the Rapids want him back in a more clearly defined role, he’d prefer to give it one more shot. But if it is indeed the end, he said he’s pleased with what he’s achieved in his decade-plus in MLS.
“I don’t think there’s anything more that I could accomplish,” Mullan said. “But of course, another championship would be nice. It is what it is.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.