This week, we're going to be taking a look back at the Ten Keys to 2013 series I put out prior to the season. Number 8 was veteran presence.
Though the big story of 2013 was the performance of the young RapKids, there were plenty of huge contributions from the veterans that helped to bridge the gaps that were left by the youth and inexperience that surrounded them. And surprisingly, Pablo Mastroeni had almost nothing to do with any of them. Though the club legend started the first game of the season against FC Dallas and had a smattering of other appearances before season's end, he eventually injured his way out of the picture and got traded to the Galaxy for a pittance. Funny in retrospect, since in that original post I said this:
Pablo, of course, will be the name to watch. Losing him made the team crumble mentally last season, I can't imagine that it would be much better with a team that is, on average, probably several years younger.
On the other hand, the other two guys I mentioned, Hendry Thomas and Drew Moor, did wonderful jobs this season.
Brian Mullan was one of the more underrated stories in the veteran regard, as well. He kept the right/left back spots held down until Chris Klute was ready to go in and light the world on fire, and he was quietly a model of consistency in the back despite being played in a position he wasn't used to.
On the attack, you had Atiba Harris and Edson Buddle, who scored big goals in big moments to keep the Rapids alive early in the season. And, who can forget what Vicente Sanchez brought to the team when he was introduced in the homestretch?
Next season, the whole team will be a year older and a year wiser, so this probably won't be as important. Had the old guard not done their jobs in 2013 though, we probably wouldn't be talking about next year's potential in quite so sparkling terms.