Colorado Rapids preach patience with Pablo Mastroeni as veteran comes back from quad strain

CENTENNIAL, Colo. – Pablo Mastroeni couldn’t wait to get back on the field last month. But perhaps the Colorado Rapids captain was a tad overeager to get back in the starting lineup.

After suffering a hamstring strain in Colorado’s home opener against Philadelphia on March 10, the 36-year-old pulled up with a quad strain less than two weeks later in the first half of a 1-0 loss to the Galaxy. Mastroeni told MLSsoccer.com this week that he may have been pushing himself too hard to get back out on the field.

“I sat out for 10 days on a hamstring,” Mastroeni said. “They always say, ‘When you feel good, give it another week.’ When you’re in professional sports, it’s kind of hard to accept that. You want to be out there.”

But if there’s anyone who deserves compassion for returning too early, it’s Mastroeni.

Just months after announcing that he would return for his 16th MLS season after missing the final 32 games of 2012 with post-concussion symptoms, Mastroeni has been publicly champing at the bit to make his return after a prolonged absence, which included what he described as some of the most challenging moments of his life.

But nagging injuries have taken their early toll. Mastroeni suffered a hamstring strain in the first half of Colorado’s 2-1 loss to the Union on March 10 and returned to the field on March 23, only to have to suffer a quad injury as he tried to overcompensate for the hamstring injury.

Now, Mastroeni is taking it easy – easier at least. He returned to full practice only this week and isn’t likely to appear this Saturday against Seattle (6 pm ET, MLS Live) as he recovers more cautiously from his latest ailment.

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“We will wait on him,” Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja said this week. “I want to trust Pablo a little bit more. We want his leadership but we learned a lesson with Pablo, and we’re going to put him in extreme drills and situations and get him going first.”

A veteran of 321 MLS games and 65 caps for the US national team, Mastroeni is learning that there’s still plenty to learn despite nearly two decades of experience.

“I’ve been in the game a long time, and you never stop learning,” he said. “Sometimes you have to re-learn the same things over and over [again].”

Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.