A year wasted. That pretty much sums up Luke Mulholland’s 2018 playing career.
The year started out well enough, he played either as a starter or sub in all the pre-season games; and although Demar Kreilach would ultimately win the starting role, it seemed likely that Luke would be one of the first to come off the bench. Then in May he broke the fateful news - he was undergoing back surgery that would take him off the field for most of the year.
It was certainly a calculated risk. Continue playing with chronic back pain that started sometime during pre-season, or pull out and get treated. The team doctor ultimately made the decision for him.
RSL fans (in our characteristic manner) send positive messages, and after a successful surgery he posted this to his Instagram Story and Twitter (he has since removed both accounts).
Overwhelmed by the number of people that reached out. One love pic.twitter.com/dNAMr9801t
— Handsome Luke (@LukeMulholland8) May 22, 2018
His rehab progressed slowly, but in between he kept busy by talking about his tattoos:
And making public appearances for the team, and was the focus of a team spotlight during the World Cup:
Around August he was up and about, attending practices jogging and doing some other exercises. We began to speculate when he would make his return, and what role he would have.
Ultimately we didn’t see him back on the field until RSL’s penultimate game of the season against New England. He got is first start — and played the full 90 minutes, where he picked up an assist feeding Corey Baird for the third goal.
He started and went the full 90 again in the playoff knockout round vs Los Angeles FC; and 89 minutes in what would be the final game of the year against Sporting Kansas City. In both he was back in his journeyman role; breaking up attacks, ball recovery, drawing fouls and taking a few shots when the opportunity arose. He truly seems to be back in form, or at least near to it.
Unfortunately, once the season ended and the team announced who stays and who goes; it appears that his injury may have cost him a place on the team. We can hope that he’ll be offered a new contract with different (and almost certainly lower) terms; but if he ultimately doesn’t return we’ll anxiously wait to see where he ends up.