Student of the Game: Mullins adapting well to his role in Revolution’s system

TUCSON, Ariz. – Patrick Mullins may no longer be a college student, but he still does his homework.

When Mullins was drafted 11th overall by the New England Revolution in this year’s SuperDraft, the two-time MAC Hermann Trophy winner was already familiar with the club’s free-flowing attacking system, which features a target striker supported by two central attacking midfielders and two wingers.

Primarily an out-and-out forward throughout his college career, Mullins understood that his particular skill-set might fit best in one of the wing positions. Rather than wait until preseason camp opened to get up to speed, he gave himself a head start by studying the position before reporting to New England.

“I watched a lot of Revs games last year and I went back and looked at some of the highlights to see what works for that position and some of the tendencies of players who played there before,” Mullins said. “I tried to buy in as much as I could. But I also think some of the strengths I have as a player fit in well as far as turning and going to goal, being able to cut in on my left foot. I think it’s pretty effective.”

Mullins has looked comfortable playing on the right side of New England’s front five this preseason, particularly while helping set up Kelyn Rowe’s game-winning goal in Wednesday’s win over the Chicago Fire. After controlling the ball with his back to goal, Mullins had the vision to find Rowe streaking through the middle, prompting the give-and-go with Diego Fagundez which led to the finish.

Mullins admits there’s been an adjustment period while learning a new role, but he’s been heavily aided by the freedom within the Revolution’s playing style. He may not be playing as an out-and-out striker, but the interchanging system also means he’s not restricted to playing up and down the touchline.

“At one point in the game you can be out on the left side, then drift to the right. I think that freedom makes us hard to mark and we have a lot of different guys who can be versatile,” Mullins said. “I think that suits all of our strengths at different points in the game.”

The 22-year-old has earned steady praise from head coach Jay Heaps this preseason and could be pushing for a spot in the starting lineup for next weekend’s season opener in Houston. Should he find himself on the field at BBVA Compass Stadium, Mullins expects to be up for the occasion.

“I think the intensity’s going to be amped up even that much more. At least that’s what I expect going into it,” he said. “I’ve seen that throughout my career; as the games get a little more intense, everybody gets more intense and wants to be out there and works just as hard. I’ll expect myself to do the same.”