Cosmos get local star: Former St. John’s standout returns to squad

He considers himself a pretty positive person.

Cosmos defender Jimmy Mulligan always knew he could play professional soccer, but the standout and former St. John’s star didn’t quite count on the long and winding road toward his dream or his roster spot with a professional soccer team. It hasn’t been easy, but Mulligan is positive it’s going to be smooth sailing on the pitch this season in Brooklyn.

“It’s really nice, first of all, just getting back to playing soccer is amazing,” said Mulligan, who graduated from St. John’s in 2013. “This team and this staff is great and just being back in this area, in New York City, is incredible for me.”

Mulligan was certain he’d be drafted out of college, but his phone never rang and a tryout with Real Salt Lake didn’t pan out. It left the defender searching for a new plan and a new spark of positivity — on and off the field.

He found it with the Cosmos. Mulligan was contacted by Cosmos coach Giovanni Savarese just after his tryout in Utah and it only took a few conversations for the pair to realize it was the perfect partnership.

“Gio had been around this area and got to come to St. John’s games and saw me play a bunch of times and liked me,” Mulligan said. “So he brought me in on trial and I went on trial for like a month before it officially worked out. I’ve been with the team ever since, so that’s been about four years.”

Mulligan relished every moment on the field with the Cosmos – playing out his dream just a few miles away from his hometown in Medford, New York. But, as with most things in his career, it wasn’t always easy and he spent last season on loan with the Swope Park Rangers.

Mulligan was anxious to return to New York this year, but the Cosmos’ uncertain future left him with more questions than answers. He did his best to stay positive, but that was sometimes easier said than done.

“It was tough. I really, really wanted to play and I had an agent at the time who knew I could play,” Mulligan said. “And it was really just a waiting game and it was tough and really stressful. You just keep pushing yourself, you keep driving and you hope things are going to work out.”

Mulligan’s belief eventually paid off and the Cosmos were saved by Rocco Commisso who purchased the team last December and kept a familiar roster of experienced players.

The squad did its collective best to keep things as normal as possible heading into its April 1 home opener and Mulligan is confident in what his team can do throughout the season.

“We came right back in and things took off where we left off,” he said. “It’s a great locker room, one of the best we’ve had and we were ready and pumped and anxious to get the season going.”

He has to stop and pinch himself every now and then, always a bit stunned to find himself living out his dream, but Mulligan wouldn’t trade any of it – despite the ups and downs of the last few seasons. After all, being part of the Cosmos means he’s part of soccer history.

“It’s really crazy to think about all the legends that have played for this team,” Mulligan said. “I was just happy to be part of a professional team and to get to keep playing after college and be able to learn from such amazing professionals, it’s been unbelievable.”

More from Around NYC