The Denver Post played host to Colorado Rapids' Head Coach, Pablo Mastroeni, and team captain, Drew Moor for a Q&A session on Monday night. Joined on the panel by Denver Post writers Mark Kiszla, Daniel Boniface, and John Meyer, those in attendance were able to ask questions about the Rapids' season thus far and about the World Cup in general.
The free event took place at Armoury, a pub located in downtown Denver, and allowed for candid insight into the feelings and experience of not only the Rapids men, but of the journalists as well. Fans even learned more about Mastroeni's mindset in how he coaches his team.
"Everything I do from a coaching perspective is an extension of who I am" said Mastroeni when asked about his unique strategy of squad rotation. "At the end of the day, whether it works or it doesn't work, I sleep easy. Because it wasn't following someone else's footsteps."
Drew Moor explained that what Mastroeni's doing is working. "When he announces the starting XI, every single player is looking up there to see if their names on it" said Moor. "When you have that kind of competition day in and day out...you can't ask for more from your coach." He added, "It's probably the happiest I've been as a ten year professional."
While fans obviously wanted to talk about the Rapids, there were plenty of questions geared toward the World Cup, including Landon Donovan's omission from the US squad (for those wondering, no one on the panel was anti-LD). Mastroeni's account of his 2002 World Cup did offer some insight into how coaches pick their team, however.
Mastroeni explained that when he received his call-up to the 2002 World cup, he was driving to a golf tournament when Bruce Arena called. Arena told Mastroeni that he was taking him to the World Cup. Mastroeni had to pull his car over.
"[Arena] says 'Do you know why I'm bringing you?' And I said 'Yes. I played great in the friendly against Jamaica. I played great in the Gold Cup' which was I think four games I participated in and I think I had six caps before the World Cup.
"He said 'No. Let me just explain to you what your role is on this team of 23...you bust your tail in training everyday, you get on great with all the guys, and I know if given the opportunity you can step up and be big in the World Cup. But don't forget, you're here because you bust your tail in training everyday, you get on great with all the guys.'"
Before the night was done, each panelist gave their predictions for who would win the World Cup. Meyer and Boniface both chose the "home" team and perennial favorites, Brazil. Kiszla claimed that, much like the Russian hockey team in the Olympics this year, the pressure of winning it all in their home country will be too much for A Seleção, and instead went the USMNT's fellow Group G opponent, Germany. Mastroeni said either Argentina or Brazil, but his dark horse to win is Chile. Finally, Moor chose Argentina to lift the cup in the end.
There were many other topics discussed at Soccer Night. Below is a collection of additional quotes, as well as a full recording (minus the first question) of the evening.
Pablo Mastroeni on coaching the Rapids:
"I want to be the best team in the world. I don't want to be the best team in MLS."
"It's not about the 18 or the 11. It's about how do you become a better player."
Drew Moor on Pablo Mastroeni:
"One thing I always say about Pablo is that he's always thinking."
"A coach says 'Well, I didn't like when a coach did this, so I'm not going to do that.' Pablo actually does that."
"We [as a team] want to go out and dictate the play. We want to have [other teams] adapt to us."
John Meyer on Pablo Mastroeni:
"He's really, deeply thoughful."
"Yes, he thinks outside the box. But it's not impulsive."
Click here for full audio from Denver Post Soccer Night.