Unheralded Englishman making name for himself in MLS

Thu Sep 17, 2015 3:58pm EDT
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By Richard Pignatelli

(Reuters) - As the number of former English Premier League standouts plying their trade in Major League Soccer continues to grow, there is an unassuming Lancashire lad making just as big an impression in the United States.

Real Salt Lake midfielder Luke Mulholland may lack the name recognition of Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard but he is now a mainstay on a team entering the final stretch of the regular season hoping to secure a playoff berth.

"There are so many star players now in this league that you just have to remain focused on playing each game," Mulholland, who as a boy cheered on former Liverpool captain Gerrard at Anfield, told Reuters.

Mulholland, born in Preston, England, spent the first three years of his professional career in the minor leagues before joining Real last year and enjoying a tremendous debut MLS season by notching six goals and seven assists in 31 matches.

On Saturday, Mulholland and his Real team mates will resume their growing rivalry by hosting the reigning MLS champion LA Galaxy, the team that eliminated them in last season's Western Conference semi-final.

While Real's title hopes ended after that defeat, they did get some revenge by beating LA in the July quarter-finals of the U.S. Open Cup, a tournament that includes teams from all three tiers of U.S. professional soccer plus top amateur leagues in the country.

It was during that U.S. Open Cup clash that Mulholland crossed swords with Gerrard for the first time, a moment he described as surreal.

"I did have to try and remain focused," said Mulholland, who was credited with assisting on the winning goal five minutes from full time.   Continued...

Apr 18, 2015; Sandy, UT, USA; Real Salt Lake midfielder Luke Mulholland (19) dribbles the ball as Vancouver Whitecaps FC midfielder Matias Laba (15) defends during the second half at Rio Tinto Stadium. The Whitecaps won 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports