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Some Luck? Jake Mulraney’s Game-Winner More Than Irish Myth

Mulraney-Luck-3.17.22

As the crowds funneled out of the stands at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday after Atlanta United’s 2-1 win in its inaugural match against Charlotte FC, a spritely supporter with a flush of bright red hair skipped over to the group of reporters waiting nearby for the postgame press conference and left behind a magically delicious clue.

“Someone should ask Mulraney if he has the luck of the Irish!”

One might think after watching the match on March 13 that Jake Mulraney, a native of Dublin, Ireland, had some luck on his side. The midfielder came on as a sub late in the second half for Atlanta United when the match was tied 1-1. Just 13 minutes later, in the heat of stoppage time, as his team fought to find a late goal, Mulraney delivered the game-winner on a deflected, left-footed strike.

But ask Mulraney whether he carried a little bit of extra luck with him the week of St. Patrick’s Day, surrounded by supporters clad in green with March’s Scarf of the Month, the Irishman will say back home it's not such a thing.

“I mean, I know it's a shame, but I don't think it's common now,” he said. “I don't think it's common.”

The goal was Mulraney’s first of the 2022 season. Midfielder Marcelino Moreno, who also entered the match as a second half sub, sent a pristine diagonal ball from behind the halfway line to the opposite right corner. Mulraney tracked it down, then had Charlotte FC defender Christian Fuchs 1-v-1.

“I just remember, I might have a lot of space 1-v-1,” Mulraney said. “I remember Marcelino stuck it over the top. I got onto it and by the time I had got onto the ball, it was 1-v-1 just outside the box. So as I got 1-v-1, it's inside the box. And he showed me on my left, so I just drop the shoulder, shift and have a pop.

Mulraney’s goal arrived in the 96th minute, making it one of the latest goals ever scored in club history. The breakthrough earned him Man of the Match honors.

Atlanta United was ahead 1-0 after striker Josef Martínez scored his first goal of the season on a penalty kick in the 60th minute, but Charlotte equalized six minutes later. That’s when Atlanta United responded with passion, winning duels and winning tackles, to give the pair of second half subs a chance to connect.

“I think it’s a good reward for the team, that goal from Jake Mulraney, to win the game,” head coach Gonzalo Pineda said after the match.

Mulraney joined Atlanta United in 2020 after playing four seasons in Scotland. In three seasons, he has three career MLS goals, including the one he scored on Sunday against Charlotte, along with three assists.

Sunday was also Mulraney’s season debut for the 5-Stripes. So, in just 13 minutes into 2022, Mulraney has already matched the number of goals he scored in 22 appearances last season with Atlanta United.

“I just want to keep adding goals, starting assists, trying to help the team anyway I can,” Mulraney said. “Whether that’s off the bench or starting, I just want to help the team.”

When he’s in top form, Mulraney looks like one of the fastest players on the pitch. This skill was on display in preseason during the scrimmage against Celaya FC in Mexico when he scored a goal that drew some similarities to the one on Sunday. Against Celaya, Mulraney dribbled the ball down the middle of the pitch, cut the ball past a defender and ripped a shot for a goal that, similar to Sunday, also put Atlanta ahead 2-1.

Although he can provide a spark in the second half, the 25-year-old wants to do more for the team than come off the bench. Mulraney wants to score goals, make assists, create chances and have the manager consider him as an attacking option.

And, to make that happen, the Irishman wants to rely on more than just luck.

“I want to be playing, I want to be starting, I want to be giving the manager headaches, I want to be putting my name out there so that I can start – but I have to earn that,” he said after the match. “I have to do things like what I did today. But I have to do even more.”

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