FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Patrick Mullins appeared to have gotten his rookie season off to an ideal start.
After a solid preseason for the New England Revolution, he earned a start on the right side of midfield in the season opener at Houston, as friends and family who made the journey up from his native New Orleans cheered him on. Just 45 minutes later, with the scoreboard reading 3-0 in favor of the Dynamo, Mullins hit the locker room and would not return to the field in MLS action for eight weeks.
“It was a great high for me going into that first game and getting the start,” Mullins told reporters on Tuesday. “It followed with some tough times where I wasn’t seeing as much of the field. I think it really tested me to make sure I brought my work ethic every day.”
As the weeks wore on with Mullins not even earning a substitute appearance, coach Jay Heaps found there was an element missing from his lineup. Seeing solid results in training, Heaps decided to try Mullins at forward, where the 11th overall pick in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft provided instant results.
“He’s very comfortable with his back to the goal, he’s very comfortable with possession,” Heaps told the media. “We felt that we were losing that a little bit, and that’s why we made the move to put him inside.”
Said Mullins: “I wanted to make sure I stayed positive. I was going to get an opportunity; I wanted to make sure that I was in the best possible preparation to be ready to contribute however I could.”
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A two-time MAC Hermann Trophy winner as the nation's top collegiate player, Mullins has rewarded his coach and his club by scoring three goals in the three games that he has started up top, making other contributions as well and sparking an offense that has netted 12 goals in that span as the Revs have risen to the top of the Eastern Conference.
“He’s been unbelievable the past three games,” said Teal Bunbury, who switched positions with Mullins and found his own form in the process. “It’s his work off the ball, holding the ball up, making runs, working defensively, all those aspects that not too many people will look at.”