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Mullan’s blast keys Rapids’ win over Crew

Mullan (Getty Images)

Brian Mullan hasn't had much to celebrate individually this season, but that all changed in a big way Friday night.

While Mullan's tackle that broke Steve Zakuani's leg will likely remain his defining moment of the season, his long-range goal against the Columbus Crew was the defining moment of the match, unlocking a scoreless game and lifting the Colorado Rapids to a 2-0 victory at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.

After a Colorado piece of possession, Mullan found himself facing the goal with loads of space after Columbus failed to close in on him. He took his chance and caught it all, rifling a blast into the upper left-hand corner of the goal from about 30 yards out in the 54th minute.

Omar Cummings added an insurance goal in the 79th minute, taking a pass from Sanna Nyassi on a counterattack and hitting a first-time shot from the right past Crew goalkeeper Will Hesmer to ice the game.

Defending MLS Cup champion Colorado (9-6-10, 37 points) improved to 3-0-1 since losing striker Conor Casey for the season to injury and trails Seattle by just one point for the Western Conference's third automatic playoff berth, although the Sounders have two games in hand.

Columbus (9-7-7, 34 points), whose best chance to score was an Andres Mendoza shot from inside the area that was saved by Matt Pickens in the 74th minute, fell in its first game since claiming sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference.

Highlights from the match can be seen here.


What did you think of the match? Did you think Mullan had that ability in him? Can you see the Rapids continuing to contend without Casey?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Wow, 48 comments (49 now) to an article about a pretty average MLS game (not a knock on either of the teams). Good to see

  2. OK, well just a couple of things, I guess, to finish.

    1. I’m not counting anything against Seattle. It’s fantastic, their situation and their attendance. Nevertheless, if one wants to talk in this sort of generalized way about MLS attendance — or about any other similar situation involving statistics and averages and relative ranking in a group and performance and so forth — it’s important to note the influence of a single outlier that skews the rest of the picture so significantly. 17 of 18 MLS teams never get within any distance of Seattle’s attendance, so what good is it to say 1 is great and everybody else sucks? Makes more sense to note that that 1 is different and then to compare the other 17 to each other.

    2. Glad to read these kinds of comments on Mullan and on the other tackles in question. I agree with. MLS was woefully inconsistent on those, taken all together (whether one thinks they all should have gotten what Mullan got, or more, or less, or whatever — just inconsistent). But then it’s hardly a surprise, unfortunately for MLS to be wildly inconsistent, either…

  3. “So you don’t recall what was that those 2 coaches said?”

    ??? You’ve lost me as to your purpose or point, here.

    First of all, I referred only to Schmid (though I believe Kinnear’s comments were just vaguely that Mullan is fair and tries hard and is a guy you like to have on your team, or something like that).

    Secondly, I only referred to Schmid’s comments as an easier, quicker alternative to what you suggested, if somebody wants to follow your suggestion of finding out what people who should know think about Mullan. (After all, Zakuani’s coach wouldn’t have any reason to be nice to Mullan in that situation, right?)

    You then made a presumably sarcastic comment about whether people needed to be “enlightened” wrt such comments. That’s fine if they don’t — I was just pointing out that it would be easier to check Schmid’s comments.

    Now you ask if I don’t recall what they said, even though I brought it up and their commentary only contradicts your take on things?

  4. Let me be more clear, your Rapids at times have games that are very similar in attendance to what the Earthquakes get, I don’t even give them a 12K average, because that’s only due to the game they played at Stanford’s stadium, I think it was Stanfords…., for the New York Red Bulls game if I’m not mistaken, pointis they sell out their little bitty 11K college stadium ALL the time.

    Thus why I said if they got that 15-18K stadium, they probably would be about equal if not maybe 1 or 2 thousand people short of what Colorado gets now.

    Not sure how Seattle doing really good is not counted towards how teams ranks to the average when they are influencing the overall average. They just do really good to play there and to get people to the stadium? Pacific Northwest fans are the best in terms of football fans! Simple as that?

    I don’t think he’s a dirty player or an evil guy, but that tackle was reckless and stupid and selfish, he was just mad he didn’t get a call on a very un important foul 45 yards from the goal almost at midfield. He isn’t bad or a dirty evil player, but that was a stupid play, honestly I feel he got away easy, should of gotten at least 8 more games, still gives about 2 months worth of MLS games and playoffs this season?

    Just like Mondaini should of gotten more and I don’t remember exactly but I think Ferreira might of been fouled a bit hard too, that one I’m not sure of didn’t see it and was unplugged for 2 weeks around the time

  5. “Rapids are a team that plays very physical and they get away with a lot of crap…”

    Like I’ve been saying, just keep running with that idea rather than check it against reality.

    And that’s what you’ll hear from a lot of fans in different cities, if you check with them. People here were still pronouncing _all_ Rapids players as thugs even during the recent match against NYRB where Nyassi was speeding along to his hat trick. They keep saying similar things despite the fouling statistics that were mentioned above, too. I’m just pointing out the lack of reality in these kinds of statement.

  6. Seattle is an outlier in the mathematical/statistical sense because at 37,189 in attendance per game this year, they are drawing about 63% more than the club currently in 2nd (LA), and over double the league average. Outliers are often removed from calculations in order to discuss was is more the normal situation.

    You may want to check up on your stats, though. San Jose is a few rungs farther down, in the mid 12K range, several hundred per game below Dallas (the other attendance punching bag) and a couple thousand per game below Colorado, Chicago and 1-2 others.

    As with the Mullen situation, however, it seems easier for people to just take an idea and let themselves run with it than to check to see how well it actually reflects reality.

  7. Care to enlighten us who didn’t listen to what Kinnear and Schmid said?

    You seem very defensive about the Rapids, I get they are your team and all but ask any fan in just about any city. Those 3 are relentlessly known for doing nothing but be physical destroyers.

    One of the reasons why that goal Mastroeni scored last week was so amazing is because that guy has NEVER shown any skill that comes CLOSE to that.

    Rapids are a team that plays very physical and they get away with a lot of crap and not all of that is on them, some of it is on the refs for being so horrible and inconsistent, but you can’t tell me plays like the one where Casey scored last year aren’t hacking plays?

  8. Chicago has had a hard time filling Toyota Park but they are playing pretty bad football.

    Wondering what do you mean by outlier Seattle?

    They gained 1000 people this year, good for them, but I think one of the biggest things is that they are in good position, they play some decent stuff out there and they have some star power, but yet they have a lot of empty seats??? Almost like what San Jose gets sometimes? If they get that new 15-18K stadium they are probably going to have a pretty big increase the way Kansas City does.

    I think a lot of that falls on the FO and the ownership, no drive to invest or promote the team has been criticized before, beautiful stadium but lots of empty seats ever since they opened DSG?

  9. “not an actual dirty player, unlike say Mastroeni, Larentowicz and Connor Casey”


    Or just listen to what his former coach and Zakuani’s current coach said about Mullan and the whole incident when it happened. Might be easier.

  10. He may be well thought of but Mullan is known for losing his cool, he’s not a bad or evil guy or a dirty player, but you can ask Glenn Davis himself. He’ll tell you, or look up what he and fellow Dynamo fans wrote about your former hustling work horse guy

  11. Go to Glenn Davis’ site, glenndavissoccer DOT com and look for the both the piece on Mullan’s tackle and the reaction from some Houston Dynamo fans who had Mullan and loved as he was very liked in Houston, as a matter of fact they were saddened to see him leave because he was about the only guy having a good season last year mainly because of his heart, work rate and this insane and miraculous goal he scored towards his last few Dynamo games.

    He is known for losing his temper, over reacting and starting little fits on the field,, not an actual dirty player, unlike say Mastroeni, Larentowicz and Connor Casey. But he did do and say stupid things in retaliation of a bad call or a hard foul or what not, etc etc. I know for a fact he did it a few times when I saw him play

  12. Agree with about everything you’ve said on this thread (and usually enjoy your commentary, in fact).

    But wrt this old saw —

    “Now if the fickle fans of Denver could only appreciate their play and show up for a few games.”

    — well the Rapids are up more than 1,000 per game over last season, are one of only half a dozen MLS clubs to be drawing more than in 2010, and were running at about 83% of the league average in attendance, at the all-star break (and about 88-89%, if you remove outlier Seattle). They’re currently outdrawing Chicago, for example, which is triple to quadruple the population of the Denver area.

    Not sure why we don’t keep hearing that Chicago fans are fickle and can’t be bothered to show up for games, though…

  13. I have watched most of the Rapids’ games this season and they were in the best form last night. A few breaks for Columbus that could have changed the result, but otherwise the Rapids were in top 4 form, IMO. Now if the fickle fans of Denver could only appreciate their play and show up for a few games.

    Also, Casey is not missed. This tandem up top is fast becoming the most dangerous in the league. While Casey’s absence makes Rapids less dangerous on set pieces, they are making up for it in the run of play, which is better to watch.

  14. You Sounders fans need to save the drama for the Dali Lama. Montero sucks and wastes countless chances with his RECKLESS shooting. Focus your anger on Montero’s ego. Mullan’s tackle was forceful and negligent, but you can’t guage the dirtyness of a tackle by the apparent grotesqueness of the injury. Breaking a leg is medically less significant than screwing up somebody’s knee or ankle. Just because it looks odd to see somebody’s leg out of anatomical alignment doesn’t mean that it’s the dirtiest tackle in soccer history. I wish Zakuani well and hope he comes back. You guys need someone who can shoot on net like Mullan.

  15. I’m guessing Shane (the one-note pony I was referring to) doesn’t have any, if you’re talking about championship rings: Mullan has quite a little collection, though. Which I’m sure just helps fuel the angry reaction of some (much like the Rapids’ win in the MLS Cup final last year fuels some people’s resentment against the team in general).

    Loved the analogies above, btw. Well played.

  16. That wasn’t a tackle – that was assault. A tackle is an attempt to play a game – assault is an attempt to injure another person. Brian was a petulant child who stepped over that line because he didnt like a lack of a call and should not play till Steve does… He lost control of himself like some punk at a bar when the girl talks to another guy. Also, let’s be honest – Steve may come back, eventually, but he won’t be the same…

  17. I agree. I will always think of Landon Donovan as a guy who pees on fields or leans over that Houston player and taunts him, you know the one who fell to the ground by the goal a couple seasons ago after Landy scored. Likewise, David Beckham will always be that guy that got red carded in the World Cup. Zidane will always be the head-butt idiot that cost his team a world cup. Brek Shea will be a hot-headed, hair disaster and so on… that’s just soccer, you don’t want to know what I think about Kobe Bryant.

  18. “you can’t blame anyone for always placing everything he does in the context of his reckless foul on Zakuani”

    I agree, but that’s not what’s happening. What’s happening is that some are defining the entire player by that moment, and some are furthermore defining the entire team by it, as well (as was already noted above). So they can’t see the reality that he was upset by it, or that he’s a good player, or that the rest of the team is actually skilled at the game, etc. It’s a lot simpler to go with the hate all around and just ignore all that complexity and reality that might slow them down.

    No problem calling out that kind of silliness.

  19. “Plus he just comes off as an annoying individual.”

    LOL Was just saying the same thing to my son during the game.

    He’s not so much a hacker as a guy who tries to start fights.

  20. what a bunch of bull, Shane. You have no evidence backing up your lies when you state that “there wasnt a single player in MLS surprised that it was Mullan”. You obviously havent been an MLS fan for very long if you think this.

  21. i agree. Once Zakuani starts playing again ppl will eventually forgive. One tackle does not make a player a dirty player. Consistent reckless tackles does (which is why i dont understand why ppl dont call Becks a dirty player cuz he has gotten so many cards from his god awful two footed slide tackles).

    Kenny Cooper and Ronnie O’ Brien also had their legs broken but now fans have laid off the tacklers a bit (Marshall and Dema). If Sounders fans are still giving Mullan an earful after Zakuani fully recovers, then they are being hypocrites since they werent berating Marshall relentlessly when he played for them. Unlike Marshall and Dema, Mullan was actually emotionally stunned by his tackle and as shown by his following training sessions before the suspension was handed down and sought professional help. Is that a sign of a dirty player? I dont think so and many MLS players agree. I rememeber reading an article on the MLS website when other players around the league called Mullan to see how emotionally affected he actually was.

  22. Not until Zakuani is playing again. You may think it was a one time issue but there wasnt a single player in MLS surprised that it was Mullan with the leg breaking tackle.

  23. Mullan’s goal was nice, but you can’t blame anyone for always placing everything he does in the context of his reckless foul on Zakuani. That’s fair. Players get remembered for things like that.

    Eventually, when Zakuani returns and time passes, Mullan’s perception will change for the better. Until then, it will be “that was a a great goal by the guy who seriously hurt someone because of his reckless foul.”

  24. Wells Thompson doesnt get the credit he deserves, he is one of the best in the league at hacking.

    Plus he just comes off as an annoying individual.

    Nice strike by mullan.

  25. If you watched this match and don’t think he was a good player in it, or in general don’t see the level at which he continues to olay, then I doubt there’s much sense in further discussion.

  26. Actually for most of this year and last year they were one of the most fouled teams and one of the ones that commit the least fouls. The Mullan story became so big that people started to think of the Rapids as being dirty, well, that and Casey’s bulldozing over stickmen defenders when given the chance.

  27. From the terrace? Just curious.

    I envy you. Thought about trying to get to the park tonight but just couldn’t get away. Looked like a great evening for soccer.

  28. I didn’t see him asking for a call and, as you pointed out, he would have had a good chance to score if he just stood up. So maybe he was actually a bit shaken up. At first, I thought Gaven was selling it too, but then he had to be taken out of the game.

  29. God it is painful to watch the Crew, I can’t believe they’re in first place.

    God how annoying is Mendoza? I lived when he was laying on the ground, writhing in pretend pain for like two minutes while the Crew had a decent chance to score. They definitely couldn’t have used him then, nope, he was best serving the team by laying on the ground until the ball went out of play and he popped back up as if nothing had happened (and in fact nothing *had* happened, he tripped over another player when already almost fully stopped).

  30. Colorado was the better team tonight and deserved the win, but I’ll never understand the officiating in this league. The refs call anything and everything all year, yet Mendoza gets tripped from behind and no PK.

  31. I kind of don’t like the way Colorado played in the past but they seem to have cleaned up their act, I like what Nyassi is doing, I think he’ll end up with out 7-10 goals and about 6-8 assists which will be a great last 3 months!

    Can they go to a 4-3-3 when Casey comes back???? Or can Nyassi play as a left winger that just pushes a lot???? Who knows? Maybe Casey goes to the bench?? I’m okay with that lol

  32. Nyassi has finally found his position up top…With Folan and Mac Kandji coming off the bench, this team can surprise in Champions League and in MLS.


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