COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — At a training session last week, Colorado Rapids defender Hunter Freeman asked reporters within earshot to begin referring to Rapids midfielder Brian Mullan as “the champ.”
The nickname — a staple in the Rapids’ locker room — is fitting. With five MLS Cup titles in his 12-year MLS career, the 34-year-old Mullan can now add another milestone to his back pocket: Mullan is the third member of the Rapids’ current squad and just the15th field player in MLS history to reach 300 career regular season games played after the Colorado native earned the start in Saturday night’s 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake.
“It’s great, I’ve had a lot of great years,” Mullan said postgame. “[I’ve had] great games and bad games and to be able to win the 300th with the slump we’ve been in, it means a lot. And hopefully we just continue [to win].”
Mullan took the field against RSL holding the hands of his two young sons, an honor given to him for the first time in his career.
"For me that was the highlight of the night," Mullan said of walking out with sons Keagan and Brady, who wore the names 'Big Bro' and 'Little Bro' on the back of their jerseys. "I never walked out with them before, and this was a good milestone to do it. You hope you could do it the last game of your career, but you never know where or when that's going to be. So this was special for me."
And the club made it count, picking up the win to snap a franchise-record six-game losing streak for the Rapids.
Mullan flashed his versatility in the match by switching to right back from his traditional right midfield role during the second half. Waiting in his locker after the game was a customized Rapids jersey emblazoned with “Da Champ” and the number “300,” along with signatures and notes from every player on the roster (Photo courtesy www.EdClementePhotography.com).
“We all call him the champ because he’s been around so long all he’s done is win,” midfielder Jeff Larentowicz told MLSsoccer.com postgame. “He’s a great guy to have in the locker room, always works hard. We’re happy to have him.”
Mullan received a multi-year contract extension last offseason, and despite his age, the Rapids are expecting the influential veteran to stick around for many years to come.
“Brian is an example for all of us,” Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja told reporters. “He’s an example of hard work, professionalism, dedication. Brian is that guy who brings that smile every morning, and you can play Brian anywhere and he will do the job. For us, we’re very proud to have him here.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.