Bruce Arena continues to collect former players, especially members of his 2002 United States World Cup team, this time trading for Pablo Mastroeni. The midfielder is heading to the LA Galaxy along with the rights to Baggio Husidic in exchange for a second-round draft pick and an international spot.
When the Galaxy hired Arena, he moved quickly to acquire Eddie Lewis. He later added Tony Sanneh and Gregg Berhalter, all members of Arena's U.S. team that advanced to the World Cup quarterfinals. That is in addition to Landon Donovan, who was already on the squad when Arena took over.
Mastroeni gives the Galaxy cover in the center of midfield, where LA needs help behind Juninho and Marcelo Sarvas. The question is whether he can stay healthy, because hamstring and quadricep injuries have limited him to five starts and two substitution appearances this season after missing much of the last two years with various other injuries. The 36-year-old has been good when he has played, providing the tough tackling and smart play that earned him 65 caps for the U.S., and LA is hoping that using him as a backup in LA will help keep him fit.
Trading Mastroeni marks a major shift in Colorado, where the midfielder has long been the face of the franchise. While there is no doubt that offloading Mastroeni's sizable salary is a smart move for the rebuilding Rapids, moving your captain, who has been with your club for 12 years and has made 225 appearances, is a big decision. The Rapids have done that now, and Oscar Pareja's overhaul in Colorado is truly moving at full speed.
Husidic is an interesting case, in MLS terms. A former Generation Adidas player who dropped to the second round of the draft, Husidic had an underwhelming spell with the first before moving to Hammarby. But Hammarby are owned by AEG, the same club that owns the Galaxy, so whether Husidic returns to MLS and joins the Galaxy, at what cost and, of course, whether he's ready to make a bigger impact than he did in Chicago all make for an interesting sidebar to what appears to be second fiddle in a trade for a former U.S. international and MLS legend.