COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Archrivals Real Salt Lake took down the Colorado Rapids 1-0 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Saturday night, hoisting the coveted Rocky Mountain Cup postgame despite Aaron Maund's 47th-minute red card and near-constant Colorado pressure after Javier Morales’ 14th-minute opener.
So, Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni was steaming mad postgame, right? Perhaps he was focused on his club’s inability to score despite a man advantage for nearly an entire half? Or, maybe he was upset at letting in a goal within a quarter hour of a crucial match at home, fresh off a 3-0 drubbing at New England just three days prior?
Wrong, wrong and wrong.
The always quotable and predictably unpredictable head coach of the Rapids had virtually nothing but positives to offer reporters despite the double loss of the trophy and a critical Western Conference clash.
“I was joking with [Real Salt Lake head coach Jeff] Cassar [that] he was wiping some grass of his shoes and he wiped off a four-leaf clover,” Mastroeni said. “Today, it wasn’t our day. But as far as overlooking the performance and the hard work and the mentality that they had, not to mention the good football that we had would be naïve on my part.”
Mastroeni, as he has frequently done in his opening season in charge, instead chose to focus on the process of building a long-term winner, looking to see improvements from his team as a whole rather than worrying about individual results.
But even with that mentality in mind, Mastroeni was still critical of his team’s performance in a midweek 3-0 blowout loss at New England, hammering his team’s effort on Wednesday by saying, “It looked like there was a team playing with a greater purpose.”
But that certainly wasn’t the case tonight, even in front of a sellout crowd hoping to see Colorado defend the hardware they won for the first time in seven seasons just a year ago.
For Mastroeni, it’s about the journey rather than the individual events – or bumps – along the proverbial road.
“I’m not worried about the trophy, the Rocky Mountain Cup. I’m worried about building something that’s sustainable,” Mastroeni said. “Then, all the hardware and all that other stuff will be a byproduct of that. You can’t put the cart ahead before the horse.”
“It’s not about one game.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.