HONOLULU, HI - FEBRUARY 23: Pablo Mastroeni #25 of the Colorado Rapids (USA) and Yutaka Tahara #34 of the Yokohama FC (Japan) battle for control of the ball during the Hawaiian Islands Soccer Invitational at the Aloha Stadium on February 23, 2012 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Yokohama FC defeated the Rapids 2-1. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
The Rapids were generous enough to host a bunch of media guys, including myself, for a little meet on Tuesday, where we asked some questions of Tim Hinchey, Paul Bravo and Oscar Pareja. One of my queries involved Pablo Mastroeni and his future with the team.
I didn't actually start the conversation tree, as it were. Oscar began by talking about how Pablo had been so valued to the team early on, for reasons that he didn't even realize at the time. Missing Pablo's voice and his intensity on the field of play, his ability to get guys going even during bad times, was something that Oscar didn't realize would happen when Pablo was shelved after getting that concussion.
He, like the rest of us, took Pablo for granted. But the question that I had involved Pablo perhaps ending up on the coaching staff of the squad.
It would make perfect sense to get Pablo into the grounds as a coach. The 'voice' that Pareja attributed to him is a thing that not all that many players in the league have, and it appears to have started reappearing with Pablo appearing more on the sidelines before games and during practices. Not just on the field, but in the locker room, Pablo has always been the 'rally the troops' kind of guy who knows how to lead a group instinctively.
When Pareja was asked if Pablo was going to get a spot on the coaching staff if he were to retire this season, the answer was more complicated than I expected. Essentially it's going to be a waiting game, a game to see if Pablo is ready to involve himself like that.
Right after getting the concussion, Pablo reportedly told Pareja that he just couldn't continue on at his usual rate. Since he's a club legend, he's been given as much time as he needs to figure out what he's going to do, whether it's come back on the field for one last hurrah, sit in the analysts booth for the next several years or take to the practice field and coach right alongside Oscar.
It eventually comes down to what Pablo wants. Pareja has asked him if he's ready several times since his concussion, and the answer has rarely been 'yes'. We'll just have to wait until Pablo feels he knows what he wants to do and when he wants to do it.
I think Paul Bravo put it best when he said that Pablo will 'always have a spot in this franchise, no matter what'. Thanks again to the guys for hosting that little get-together and to Oscar Pareja for answering that for me when asked. Hopefully in the end, Pablo is ready by 2013 to be the 'voice' that the team needs, just on the sideline this time around.