Commerce City, Colo. – If there’s been one constant at the start of the past 10 MLS Cup Playoffs, it’s that Brian Mullan is on the field somewhere. The veteran midfielder will be appearing in his 11th consecutive postseason when the Rapids host the Columbus Crew in a Wild Card game on Thursday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park (8 pm MT).
“The teams I’ve played for have been good,” Mullan told ColoradoRapids.com of the secret of his success. “It’s all it comes down to. They’ve had the drive and will to succeed, and have succeeded.”
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only two players in the league’s 16-year history have appeared in more MLS postseasons than Mullan: former Chicago/DC/NY/LA midfielder Dema Kovalenko, who played in 12 straight playoffs from 1999-2010, and current FC Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, who will be playing in his 13th postseason when he takes the field against New York on Wednesday night (though his are not all consecutive).
Not only has Mullan made it to the playoffs in every one of his 11 years in MLS, but his teams have made it to the MLS Cup championship game in six of his first 10 years. And, he’s won a League-record tying five MLS Cup titles, joining retired DC/SJ/NY defender Jeff Agoos as the only players with five Championship rings.
“It’s definitely an important time,” he said of the playoffs. “It’s when your season either ends or you keep going. I try to play the same way every day, just as hard as I can. And I’d like to say my game doesn’t step up for playoffs, but of course there’s an excitement to it.”
Mullan’s five titles have come with four different teams: the LA Galaxy (2002), San Jose Earthquakes (2003), Houston Dynamo (2006, 2007), and Colorado Rapids (2010). And the Littleton, Colo. native is in search of another with his hometown team.
“I wouldn’t be playing if I didn’t,” he said about adding another championship. “It’s definitely something that everybody strives for. If you’re not striving for it, then you shouldn’t be playing.”
His first step towards that sixth title starts Thursday.