DENVER – It took 56 days of speculation, but finally, the long-awaited phone call arrived on Friday night.
After nearly 12 years as the face of the Colorado Rapids on the field and almost two months as the interim head coach, Pablo Mastroeni was officially named the seventh head coach in franchise history on Saturday afternoon.
The team made the announcement at a supporter kickoff party on Saturday afternoon here in downtown Denver, and the news was greeted with cheers by the roughly 100 fans that turned out for the announcement.
“I couldn’t be happier with the appointment,” Mastroeni told MLSsoccer.com minutes after the announcement. “Life is crazy. I wanted to be coaching when I was done playing in some capacity. I didn’t know what level it was going to be at.
"I think if you’re prepared and you’re willing to take on a challenge, life will present you with crazy circumstances. And I think this is the right situation at the right time for me.”
The Rapids wanted a long-term solution after Oscar Pareja’s surprise departure from the post in January. Mastroeni, in the eyes of team president Tim Hinchey, fits that mold.
“Paul [Bravo, the team's technical director] drove the train on this, like he should,” Hinchey told MLSsoccer.com. “I think when I got to Philadelphia at the draft [in January], when I saw [the whole staff] together, and I saw how Pablo conducted himself, it was almost like watching your kid graduate from high school or college. He was it. You just knew.”
“Our club deserves somebody who wants to be at this club. This is their dream job. They’re not using this to go somewhere else. We always talk about how important it is to develop young players and our Homegrown players. In our mind, why not home grow our own coach?”
Players, meanwhile, celebrated the move a week ahead of the season opener on March 15 at New York. Team captain Drew Moor – whom Mastroeni reaffirmed would remain the club’s captain – said he’s seen a noticeably happier, positive vibe during the preseason since Mastroeni took over.
“I’m obviously extremely pumped,” Moor told MLSsoccer.com. “I think that this team can achieve every goal that it sets. I’d be lying if I said that an MLS Cup championship wasn’t one of our goals.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.