I think it's time I eat a little crow: When Luke Mulholland came to the team, I was happy that we brought in a promising midfielder, but I doubted that he was really the answer to our problems immediately.
After his first half-season, I had warmed up, but I still remained somewhat doubtful — after all, he'd had troubles staying in a match for 90 minutes, and he'd at times seemed a 45-minute player — a good substitute but not much more in the short-term.
But now? He's gone 90 minutes two weeks in a row, and he's actually been effective for the entirety. He's getting on the end of difficult passes, he's fighting for loose balls, and he's challenging in the midfield. He fits the team without much issue.
Sure, he still has a lower passing percentage than maybe we'd like — he's a player still growing into his role — but he's creating opportunities through his passing and through his movement. And sometimes, he's pushing forward enough to get on the end of some difficult rebounds and passes.
His goalscoring isn't an accident, and I don't know that I ever thought it was — but I worried that we had on our hands somebody who wasn't fit enough to play 90 minutes. We now know that I was probably wrong about that.
It's difficult to say whether that was down to match fitness, adapting to his position, or growing into his new situation at a new club. Maybe it was all three. But that we now have an MLS-level player for the foreseeable future — and a growing player at that — puts us in a very good position.
It's becoming increasingly clear why Luis Gil has been displaced at the side of the diamond. Mulholland's grown into the position expertly, and perhaps he's a better option for the side of the diamond than Gil.
But if today's match against Seattle Sounders is any indication, that's not because Gil has declined as a player. Instead, he's adapting to his own more natural position — the central attacking midfield spot.
I could prattle on about Mulholland all day, but I'll let Jeff Cassar close us out with a quote from his press conference after our 2-1 win over Seattle Sounders.
He's got that fight in him, spirit, he's a perfect two-way midfielder. Even though he played pretty much attacking midfielder for [the Tampa Bay Rowdies], he had all the characteristics to be a two-way midfielder. You never know, but it's a credit to him - it's a credit to his teammates for welcoming him to the team - and he's really adapted amazingly. Jeff Cassar, Aug. 16, 2014
And hey, he's a pretty good provider of service. Joao Plata scored with his head for a second consecutive match, and both times were from Luke Mulholland service. Check out the cross to the back post on this goal.