Tim Mulqueen has been around Major League Soccer for a very long time. He was there when the league got up and running in 1996, working through 2004 with both the New York/New Jersey MetroStars and Kansas City Wizards. Now, in 2017, he joins Orlando City, returning to a league much different than where he last left it.
“Oh it’s changed tremendously,” Mulqueen said in his first media interview with reporters at Orlando City’s training session on Monday morning. “When I was in the league from ’96 through 2004 with New York and Kansas City, we did a lot of things as a coaching staff that we now have people who do. We were team administrators, we were travel coordinators, we were video analysis guys, we did it all. Now you have tremendous support staff to help with that.”
Mulqueen was hired as Orlando City’s new goalkeeper coach last month, filling the spot made vacant by Stewart Kerr, who left the club this off-season to take a job with the Vancouver Whitecaps.
He joined the Lions from Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School in Bradenton, FL, where he served as associate athletic director since 2014. In addition, Mulqueen has coached for several years on the United States Youth National Team level.
To take the job with Orlando City was practically a no-brainer, according to Mulqueen.
“I was sitting at home and Miles [Joseph, Orlando’s assistant coach] sent me a text message asking me if I’d be interested in the position, and I think before he hit send I was replying back, ‘Yes, 100 percent I’d be interested,’” he said. “Then I spoke with Jason [Kreis] on several occasions about my philosophy and their philosophy and it seemed like a good fit.
“In about 10 days to two weeks, through the process of getting to know each other a bit and getting to know how I went about coaching goalkeeping, we came to an agreement that this would be a great situation for me.”
Joseph and Mulqueen know each other well from their days with the MetroStars, when both entered the new league in 1996 (Joseph was with New York from ’96-’00, and Mulqueen from ‘96-’99). That relationship has made things easier for the longtime coach as he settles into his new job in Orlando, where Joseph recently joined last fall as a part of Kreis’ coaching staff.
“I’m settling in great. The staff has been super, and I had a previous relationship with Miles Joseph,” he said. “So knowing him coming in was helpful, and Jason and C.J. [Brown] and Bobby [Murphy] have been super, and knowing the goalkeepers prior to me coming here made it a bit easier coming in. But it’s been a great transition for me, and I’m very excited.”
Throughout his career, Mulqueen has worked with goalkeepers such as Brad Guzan, Kasey Keller, Zac MacMath, Bill Hamid, Sean Johnson, and Tony Meola, as well as current Orlando City ‘keepers Joe Bendik, Earl Edwards Jr., and Mason Stajduhar.
The New Jersey native was happy to share the philosophy that’s got him this far.
“The first thing is very simple: We want to make sure the ball doesn’t go behind us. You laugh, but that’s key,” he said. “So many people get wrapped up in goalkeepers being field players and being able to play with their feet, but the main job is to keep the ball from going in. So my philosophy is making sure that the goalkeepers are very confident, very comfortable in the goal seeing shots, and with their handling, and with their angle play.
“Once we get that all down, then we can go into playing out of the back and playing with their feet. But I think my greatest strength as a coach is keeping it simple, and realizing what a goalkeeper needs on a day-to-day basis, which is seeing shots, seeing crosses, and working in their angles.”
Mulqueen is the third man to fill the role of goalkeeper coach in the last three seasons for Orlando City, and unlike his predecessor, he comes into a goalkeeping situation much less fuzzy than at the start of camp last season. Last month, the club added Josh Saunders into a group that already included Edwards Jr., Stajduhar, and reigning MLS Save of the Year winner Bendik, who Mulqueen got to work with very closely during his days with the youth national team.
“There’s always competition — I think that’s a good thing. But the good thing about it is Josh understands that Joe had a good year last year and it’s Joe’s job right now, and he’s ready for the call,” he said. “It’s a very comforting thing to have someone who’s won three MLS Cup championships on your roster that you can turn to, not only for a game but for advice and help. So I think it’s always good to have competition, but it’s very healthy and very comfortable within the goalkeeper group. They get along very well — all of the goalkeepers do. And that’s something I try to really manage because I think you need a really good working environment. Only one can play, so it’s a difficult situation, but they need to support one another.”
Mulqueen hopes to be able to continue the success that Bendik had last season working with Kerr, while giving his service to the Orlando City organization.
“I knew all along that I wanted to be here, so I was very thankful that Jason selected me,” he said. “I know there’s a lot of people out there that wanted this opportunity and I’m very grateful to Jason and the organization for bringing me on board, and I promised 100 percent effort everyday, and I plan on doing that.”