With Mastroeni sidelined again, Rivero set to make debut

Pablo Mastroeni

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COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Colorado Rapids veteran Pablo Mastroeni will not be available for Sunday’s home clash with the Chicago Fire (7 pm ET, Galavision), and the midfielder’s status beyond this weekend is unclear as he battles headaches stemming from a collision during a game against Columbus on March 10.

“We are testing [Pablo] and giving him a little time to settle with the doctors and not feel too much pressure from the needs that we have here from him,” Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday. “We are waiting on the doctors to get all the testing [done] and waiting for them to tell us what’s the next step. Obviously, we need him, but if we need to wait on him, we will do it.”

With Mastroeni’s status murky at best – it’s unlikely he’ll return to practice next week – players have reached out to the 35-year-old stalwart and understand that he’s in a tricky situation.

“Pablo’s a very intelligent person, and at this point in his career he’s just feeling things out and making sure he’s OK,” said midfielder Jeff Larentowicz, who’s been in contact with Mastroeni since the injury. “There’s no part of him that wants this to be the end for anything, and at the same time he wants to make sure his body’s correct to be able to come back.”

Meanwhile, Pareja is preparing for newcomer Martín Rivero to make his MLS debut in Mastroeni’s place in the starting lineup. Rivero was ineligible to play in the Rapids’ first three matches as he lacked an International Transfer Certificate (ITC), but Rivero’s provisional ITC arrived from FIFA on Monday and the young midfielder said he’s prepared to step in for Mastroeni.

“I’m ready,” the 22-year-old Rivero told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday. “I feel good. I feel accustomed to Colorado. I lack a little rhythm in game settings, but that’ll come back with game action.”

Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.