COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — After making his 300th career appearance in August, Brian Mullan’s Colorado Rapids teammates hung a jersey in his locker that read “da champ” in his locker.
But “da champ” won’t be a champ this year, and he’ll have an unwanted first on his career résumé.
Now in his 12th year, Mullan will miss the postseason for the first time in his MLS career, and it’s a feeling he doesn’t want to experience ever again.
“It’s very disappointing,” Mullan told MLSsoccer.com. “It’s one of those seasons where things just don’t fall into place. Everybody was giving it their all, and you get a couple of bounces one way or the other and you start on a roll, and things usually happen, but they didn’t happen for us this year.”
Mullan is one of just two players in league history to win five MLS Cups along with former US national team defender Jeff Agoos, and he’s helped lead the Rapids to the postseason each of the past two years after coming over in a trade from Houston midway through the 2010 season.
|Most Consecutive Postseason Appearances in MLS History|
|Dema Kovalenko||12 (1999-2010)|
|Brian Mullan||11 (2001-2011)|
|Cobi Jones||10 (1996-2005)|
|Kevin Hartman||9 (1997-2005)|
|Brian Carroll||8 (2004-2011)|
|Mauricio Cienfuegos||8 (1996-2003)|
|Dwayne De Rosario||8 (2001-2008)|
|Jay Heaps||8 (2002-2009)|
|Eddie Robinson||8 (2002-2009|
Mullan won two MLS Cups and reached the postseason four times with the Dynamo and also featured for the San Jose Earthquakes and LA Galaxy, reaching the playoffs every season since his MLS debut in 2001.
The streak of 11 consecutive postseason appearances is good enough for second all-time in league history behind former journeyman Dema Kovalenko, who never missed the postseason during his 12-year career from 1999-2010.
Mullan battled through an assortment of injuries to post two goals and seven assists in 25 starts for the Rapids this year, and Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja has repeatedly pointed to the Colorado native as one of his key cogs this season. But facing likely knee surgery in the offseason, the 34-year-old Mullan may be shut down for the Rapids’ final two games of the season.
UPDATE (Oct. 17, 6 MT): Mullan to have knee scoped, miss final two matches
“[The knee and hamstring] are not doing as well as I would’ve hoped,” Mullan said. “We’re exploring possibilities with both of them right now.”
But despite the injuries, Mullan said he definitely plans on returning, and he’s focusing on returning to the postseason once again in 2013. He signed a multi-year contract extension with the Rapids last December.
“As athletes, we want to win,” Mullan said. “You look at what’s happening now and not making the postseason this year is what I’m focusing on, and it leaves a bitter taste.”
WATCH: ALTITUDE TV FEATURE ON MULLAN
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.