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Tim Mulqueen kicks a ball into the air while working with Orlando City SC goalkeepers. Courtesy photo.
East County Wednesday, Apr. 5, 2017 2 years ago

Lakewood Ranch resident has drive to coach in MLS

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Prose and Kohn: Ryan Kohn.
by: Ryan Kohn Sports Reporter

Lakewood Ranch resident Tim Mulqueen’s commute to work is probably longer than yours.

He makes the 120-mile drive to Orlando every morning, and returns the same way every night, unless his organization has a scheduled flight across the United States.

In January, Mulqueen became the goalkeepers coach for Orlando City SC, Florida’s lone Major League Soccer team. He has lived in Lakewood Ranch since 2005, moving to the area after previously coaching the position for the New York/New Jersey MetroStars (now called the New York Red Bulls) and the Kansas City Wizards (now Sporting Kansas City).

On his drives, Mulqueen listens to various podcasts and audiobooks to fill the silence. His genres of choice are history and, naturally, coaching. When I spoke to him on March 30, he was in the middle of "Win Forever: Live, Work and Play Like a Champion," a book on coaching written by Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll.

“It's really not bad,” Mulqueen said of the drive. “I'm from the Northeast where everybody commutes a lot to get where they have to go. It's just the nature of the beast. Obviously, it would be great if it was closer, but it's not, so it's just something I do not even factor in anymore.”

At this point, I’m sure lots of readers are asking the same thing: Why doesn't he just move to Orlando?

Turns out, he has two pretty good reasons for staying in Lakewood Ranch. His son, Trevor Mulqueen, and daughter, Kate Mulqueen, both attend St. Stephen’s Episcopal School in Bradenton. They love it there, as do Tim and his wife, Kathleen Mulqueen. The two parents thought it would be unfair to uproot their children while they were in high school.

The surrounding community also has a lot to do with it.

“We love Lakewood Ranch,” Mulqueen said. “We love living where we do. I have had opportunities to get back in the league with other teams, but we like living where we do so much that we always chose to pass on it and to stay here. Moving my family was not an option.”

Mulqueen said he never anticipated the Orlando City SC job opening up — the team only began play in 2015 — but after conversations with the team and his family, he decided to take the job and commute from Lakewood Ranch.

The coach began as a field player in high school, but switched to goalie when other volunteers for the position failed. Once assigned the position, he quickly fell in love with it. It was the pressure of it all, he said.

A goalie has few opportunities to make a play. One error and the keeper can be considered the game's “goat.” Conversely, one stunning save can be the key to a victory.

Eventually, Mulqueen realized he didn't have the ability needed to play goalkeeper in Europe at a high level, so he tweaked his focus toward coaching the position.

In that realm, he has found great success. The Wizards won the MLS Cup in Mulqueen’s first year with the team, and he was selected to coach the U.S. Men’s National Team goaltenders during the 2004 Summer Olympics qualifying tournament and the 2008 Summer Olympics, as well as coaching multiple tournaments with the U.S. U-17 and U-20 teams.

Former U.S. Men’s National Team goaltender Tim Howard, widely considered to be one of the best goalkeepers in U.S. history, credits Mulqueen with his development. Mulqueen and Howard have worked together since the latter was 12 years old. Mulqueen said he could tell even at that age Howard had a chance to be very good. He had unique athleticism for the position. It was just a matter of how good.

“I always said to him (Howard) at that age, and I say it to all the goalkeepers I work with, I can only take you so far,” Mulqueen said. “You have to do the rest. Tim was willing to do the rest.”

The pair still talks three or four times a week, Mulqueen said, depending on each other’s schedules. The conversations now include stories on family and life in general as much as they do goalkeeping, though they always end up there, he said. Howard pushed Mulqueen to get back to coaching on the MLS level after years away. He said he could teach keepers the same things he offered Howard, now 38, so many years ago.

Mulqueen started a blog in 2014, Tim Mulqueen Goalkeeping, on Blogspot. He only posted seven times, most of them about the inner workings of coaching, but I quite enjoyed them. Mulqueen said he is going to start his blog again, which is good news.

Meanwhile, he urges area residents to go see a game live. After all, it's not a bad drive.

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