Luke Mulholland is back.
Real Salt Lake on Wednesday re-signed the midfielder to a new one-year contract after declining his option earlier this offseason.
Mulholland told The Salt Lake Tribune Wednesday that he let general manager Craig Waibel know after last season that RSL was the “No. 1 team” he wanted to play for in 2019. While it took a bit longer than he expected, the 30-year-old veteran felt “delighted” to be back to the team with which he has spent the last five seasons.
Mulholland spent much of the 2018 season sidelined due to a back injury, which was “a huge blow” for him, he said. But he returned late in the year and helped RSL in key moments of the postseason.
While Mulholland understood RSL declined his contract option due to injury concerns, he felt confident he would be back with the club after other teams passed on him in the re-entry draft process, he said.
“They wanted me to stay here, and I wanted to stay here," Mulholland said.
Mulholland said his biggest goal next season is to be available for every game. And while he admits “financially” he is not a starter, it’s clear being part of the starting 11 is a goal he has in mind for 2019.
“It is important to work towards being a starter and get as many appearances as possible,” Mulholland. “But ... the main outlook is just to make the most out of the opportunities when they come my way.”
Mulholland was originally acquired by RSL in 2014. He has played in 122 total matches and started 97 of them, scoring 16 goals and adding 16 assists in the process.
Mulholland’s return bolsters the midfield position for Real. With him, Kyle Beckerman and the recent signing of Everton Luiz, that part of the field now contains three veterans that can complement RSL’s young core, a focus general manager Craig Waibel has said is a priority this offseason.
“Luke has been an important part of our locker room for the last five years. He is a veteran presence on the field that can play in multiple roles, which is important to us,” Waibel said in the release. “He not only is a valuable player on the field and in the locker room, but really represents the club well in the community and we’re glad to have him back.”
Waibel said late last month that the team was in talks to bring Mulholland back.