The Colorado Rapids finally have a manager, and it's the man who has been managing the team for months -- Pablo Mastroeni. Two months after Mastroeni took over on a temporary basis while the club conducted a search to replace Oscar Pareja, the Rapids have named Mastroeni the permanent manager just minutes before the start of the 2014 MLS season.
Mastroeni's 16-year playing career came to an end after last season and while he played for three clubs, he spent the bulk of his career with the Rapids. He joined MLS in 1998 with the Miami Fusion, but was acquired by the Rapids in 2002 and stayed there until being traded to the LA Galaxy last June.
When the 37-year-old retired last November, he quickly re-joined Colorado in a front office position and when Pareja left the club in January, he was given the reins on an interim basis. Oddly, the club decided to conduct a full search for a manager and that continued through the preseason. As teams were getting ready to start the season, the Rapids didn't even have a manager. That changed today, with Colorado deciding on the man they had all along.
The Rapids' season doesn't start until March 15, when they take on the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena. That gives Mastroeni one week to prepare the team, although he has been doing so as interim manager all preseason.
It's unclear how Mastroeni will have the Rapids play. While Pareja emphasized possession and skill, the team was a little bit more direct in the preseason under Mastroeni. They still played through some of their more skilled players, but it was a bit more varied than last season and it resulted in a 4-4-2 preseason record.
There's no doubt that Mastroeni has the playing resume, with a long club career in MLS to go along with 65 caps for the United States. He was also regularly praised for his savvy, leadership and ability to communicate. Apparently that wasn't enough to sell the Rapids on him in January, or even last week, but they're sold now and MLS has another former player in its coaching ranks.