Pablo Mastroeni has shown a love of squad rotation since taking over the Colorado Rapids. He has been very clear that he wants his entire squad to contribute and he wants to give everyone minutes so that, in case of injuries or fixture congestion, everyone will be ready to start for the Rapids. It has been a bit frustrating at times to see, as players in form (Dillon Serna in particular) have been kept out of starting lineups in the name of the rotation.
On Sunday, it finally blew up in his face. Pablo threw the worst line-up of the year, a squad that looked more suitable for the first round of the Open Cup than an important MLS match at home against a Conference rival, and his team listlessly fell 3-1. The most jarring part of the lineup was Pablo's choice to leave his two best defenders, Drew Moor and Chris Klute, on the bench in favor of Marvell Wynne and Marc Burch. On the attacking side, Danny Mwanga was given his first start of the season. Neither of those choices hurt the Rapids much in the first half, which featured nothing but possession and longballs from the Rapids while Chivas did nothing in particular. The blustery and snowy conditions, which kept the majority of the Mother's Day crowd at home, didn't help matters at all, as Colorado's longball-heavy tactics failed to do anything in the wind.
The second half finally saw the Rapids make the defensive mistake that had eluded them all first half. Martin Rivero found himself in some space and made a cross, which caught Wynne ball-watching as Cubo Torres waltzed in behind him for an easy headed finish. It woke up the Rapids a bit to go down a goal, but a series of corner kicks ended in disaster as the Rapids sent too many forward and left Marvin Chavez wide open for a long run at goal on his own.
Too late, Mastroeni put in Chris Klute, Charles Eloundou and Dillon Powers. There was little they could do, though, as Chavez added a second to make it 3-0. This is, by the way, the same Marvin Chavez who demanded a trade because Pablo refused to include him in his starting XI often enough even as the offense faltered game after game. Nice one.
Deshorn Brown did score late into the match to give the Rapids something to latch onto as good from the match, but it was far into stoppage time and there was never going to be anything resembling a comeback attempt.
Pablo has nowhere to look for this loss but in the mirror. Hopefully, this ends up an important learning experience for him. Squad rotation is one thing. Not starting your two best defenders and starting the least in-form striker on the team in a very important home match against a team you should be beating is quite another.