On Friday, the Rapids induct Coach Pablo Mastroeni into the Gallery of Honor, joining Marcelo Balboa, Paul Bravo, Chris Henderson and John Spencer. We would do well to remember all Mastroeni accomplished during his time as a Rapid.
Colorado's most decorated player, Mastroeni was named to the MLS All-Star Team in his first seven years with the club (2002-2008), and earned Rapids MVP honors in 2007, 2008 and 2010. He currently holds club records for most regular season games played (225), games started (217) and minutes played (18,669), and served as the Rapids captain from late 2004 until mid-2013. He was named the club's seventh Head Coach in history on March 8, 2014 after leading the team throughout preseason.
Many have spilled plenty of ink about Mastroeni over the years, from his accomplishments on the field to personall reasons, one of which was expressed in John Rosch's excellent article here at the BW.
When I started following the Rapids, I knew of Mastroeni as a former Rapid who played his last year for the LA Galaxy.
- Leadership: Captaining the Rapids for nine years, then serving as interim coach when Pareja bolted for FC Dallas, his command of the game and his attention to detail has served him well when the FO made the no-brainer decision to appoint him head coach. He served for over a decade as a coach on the field, and continues to bring that leadership to practice and the sideline for the Boys in Burgundy.
- Passion: His passion for the game, as well as his passion for the Rapids and the community, is quite contagious. While his passion created some controversy (especially his run-in with Real Salt Lake owner Dave Checketts after a heated Rocky Mountain Cup match at Rio Tinto), no one could deny his passion for the Rapids and his pride in bringing the RMC back to Colorado. That passion as a coach translates to practices (where his players hear it
- Conviction: At the beginning of the season, Mastroeni received criticism for the different lineups he'd field, hardly having the same lineup in consecutive games. He stood by the conviction that the MLS season is a long one--more players needed to play to keep their legs fresh for the long run. Over the last month, he fielded more consistent team. On NBC Sports during the Rapids-Timbers game on Friday, the commentators made the observation after Deshorn Brown went down against Portland, that the Rapids could bring someone off the bench who had some minutes due to his strategy at the beginning of the season. He could have responded to his critics by either kowtowing to them and fielding a team before things had solidified, or he could have told everyone to knock it off--he's the coach. He stayed true to his conviction, stayed classy, and looks to benefit from fresher legs and valuable minutes his (now) reserves have.
- Responsibility: Mastroeni never abdicates responsibility. If the team isn't prepared, it's on him. If someone does well, he praises them and takes a back seat. Even his choice quote early in the year that captured the attention of this writer showed his motivation: "You can't evolve until you hurt enough."