COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – If you’ve ever seen Pablo Mastroeni hold a practice, you know that the Colorado Rapids head coach isn’t exactly afraid to chew out his players, frequently using profanity-laced tirades to get his point across.
So when Rapids players spoke about Mastroeni “laying into” them during halftime of their 4-1 win on Saturday night over the Montreal Impact, only imagination can transcribe what Mastroeni said in the Dick’s Sporting Goods Park home locker room.
But whatever it was Mastroeni said – defender Shane O’Neill chuckled when asked what exactly it was the rookie head coach said – it worked.
“There’s no getting around that, he definitely got into us,” said O’Neill, who scored his first MLS goal in the 59th minute on Saturday night. “We all came out with a point to prove in the second half, and I definitely think we did that. “
The Rapids went into the half leading 1-0 on the back of a fifth-minute penalty strike from Dillon Powers, but Mastroeni wasn’t happy with his team’s inability to push further up the field. With the Impact bringing up their fullbacks up high, Mastroeni wanted to see the Rapids push back and pressure the opposing back line more than they did in the opening 45 minutes.
The Rapids’ response? Two goals in the first 15 minutes of the second half, including terrific strikes from Kamani Hill and O’Neill.
“I was upset that we were sitting back in the first half after we got the goal, and that’s not what we want to do,” Mastroeni said postgame of the reasoning for his tirade. “For me, at halftime, it was more that mentality and just making sure that they understand what we’re trying to achieve, and how do we go out in the field in the second half and achieve that, and I think they did that.”
Maybe he won’t need to rip into his team next time to get his point across, but if he sees something wrong, Mastroeni clearly isn’t afraid to fire his team up in a different manner. And if Saturday night is any indication, his message was heard.
Loud and clear.
“[Pablo came] in, yelling at players and telling them to lift their head up and start doing the job they’re supposed to do,” striker Deshorn Brown said postgame. “It helped us a lot. He found a way to wake the guys up and start playing the game the way they should play.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.