In Colorado the end of Pablo Mastroeni's playing career will culminate with his name on the Rapids Gallery of Honor before the Chivas USA match this weekend. With the Colorado Rapids going into the stretch run of the MLS season they are in about the same position as last year. Being in 5th place near the end of July in the Western Conference with a rookie coach and young team will be a testament to the Rapids front office and the rookie head coach. How Pablo played in his career is coming out in how the Rapids are playing on the field.
The old adage is the workplace takes on the attitude of its manager. The good news is that the Rapids fit into this stereotype nicely. With 8 clean sheets this season along with the second lowest goals against average the Rapids are winning with their defense. Obviously the games against the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers away were not indicative of this but DSG Park has been a place that opposing teams do not want to visit. The worst the Rapids have done this year was when Chivas USA came to town and brought back Wilmer Cabrera and their revenge tour. With a few more months of season under both rookie head coaches respective belts the match this weekend will be full of Rapids pride on the line.
The match against the Goats of Los Angeles this week means a lot as far as the Rapids form. Colorado was without Vincente Sanchez the last time the Rapids played Chivas USA. Hopefully his play-making skill will be a difference maker. Last week in Portland the Rapids folded under the weight of not having the experienced defensive midfielders to control the ball with their lead. Deshorn Brown going out exposed the defense to Portland's ball control and no Sanchez to be creative set the stage for Portland to make a furious comeback.
If last season taught the fans anything about the MLS is that parity is alive and well. A three game win streak by any of the teams ranked 2-8 in the Western Conference will put that team in a playoff position. Conversely, a three game losing streak wil find that team out of the playoff picture altogether. When and if the Rapids have a full lineup again this season is when they will peak. Gabriel Torres is playing his way back into shape and I expect him to contribute something this season. Jose Mari will make a return for Colorado. Keeping Vicente Sanchez healthy for the playoffs is the Rapids best bet. With any sports season a team goes with ups and downs and having Pablo Mastroeni's level head as the leader for this team is what will have him be successful in coaching as he was in playing. It was a pleasure to watch him for all those years as the representative of Colorado soccer. Hopefully he will be just as outstanding and rewarded as a coach.