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17
Thu, Oct

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Travis Mulraine reckons that he needs only one foot to throw a monkey wrench in the plans of United States Major League Soccer (MLS) outfit Kansas City Wizards.


The 24-year-old W-Connection midfielder did not say so but the team doctor would be forgiven for jumping to that conclusion.

The combative player should be on the operating table but has postponed ankle surgery to play in tomorrow’s CONCACAF Champions’ Cup match against the Wizards from 5 p.m. at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella.

A chance to play at this level is not something that the former San Jose Earthquakes player takes lightly.

“Just as how Dwight Yorke referred to the (European) Champions’ League as his World Cup,” said Mulraine, “...this is my Gold Cup.”

Mulraine’s voice is level but he has endured a frustrating career ever since his first international senior cap for Trinidad and Tobago in 1995 under Yugoslav coach Zoran Vranes.

At just 18 years of age, it was the impetus that the ambitious player needed to dream about conquering the football world.

But it never quite worked out that way for the former Queen’s Royal College schoolboy.

“It has been very frustrating,” said Mulraine. “I have 25 international caps and 24 of them are in friendlies.

I have been on the national team since 1995 and never played in a major tournament...

“It is important to me to know where my level is at since I don’t get the chance at international level.

The fact that Connection’s opponent in the home and away fixture hails from the MLS is also very relevant for Mulraine.

He still remembers with dread his miserable 2000 season spent with the Earthquakes and an unsuccessful try-out with DC United the following pre-season.

The move to Earthquakes, he explained, should have brought him on par with fellow foreign-based national players such as striker Stern John—a former MLS standout with Columbus Crew—and convinced the T&T national coach of his class.

But Mulraine lost his starting spot early in the season due to injury and never regained his place.

Even worse, the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF) was still not paying suitable attention to the temperamental player.

At the close of the season, Mulraine priced himself out of a new contract with the Earthquakes and then endured a discouraging trial with DC United—

”They said I wasn’t versatile enough...but they only used me in one position, defensive midfield”—before returning to Trinidad.

At Connection, Mulraine believes he can finally blossom into the player that he thinks he can be.

“It is the most ambitious local club I’ve played for,” said Mulraine, who also represented FIFA vice-president Jack Warner’s team Joe Public. “They have big dreams and I have big dreams also, so there is a good working relationship...

“This club is very ambitious and wants to go places and I want to do that too.”

Mulraine again started slowly with the Professional Football League (PFL) 2000 and 2001 champions and was often used off the bench last season.

But the player, who once received a one-year suspension from Trinidad and Tobago football for slapping a referee’s notebook from his hands, has learned to take such minor setbacks in stride.

“Last year, I was satisfied with my playing time,” he said. “There is a system that things are done by at this club. You don’t just walk into the team. It’s a certain level of respect which I think is a good principle.

“Unlike the national team where you train for six months and someone comes from overseas and plays (ahead of you).”

Mulraine is likely to be used from the start tomorrow, though, alongside versatile team captain Reynold Carrington, who has agreed to put his retirement on hold to strengthen the Connection midfield.

They should need it against a Wizards team that Mulraine expects to be fast on the flanks and powerful up front.

But he reckons that Connection is not far behind most MLS clubs in terms of ability on the field.

Speedy ex-Defence Force striker Gary Glasgow—also left out of T&T’s 2002 CONCACAF Gold Cup team—is expected to feature for the visitors, who were expected to arrive last night.

Glasgow and Mulraine know each other well and enjoyed a night out whenever their teams met during the latter’s limited MLS adventure.

There won’t be much pleasantries before tomorrow’s game, though.

“I really have a score to settle,” said Mulraine.

Club president David J Williams and coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier will bank on it being in their favour. National coach Rene Simoes should also be an interested party.