Former Colorado Rapids coach Pablo Mastroeni named Real Salt Lake assistant

Pablo Mastroeni as Colorado Rapids coach

A longtime fixture on the other side of the Rocky Mountain Cup as a Colorado Rapids player and coach, Pablo Mastroeni has joined the Real Salt Lake coaching staff as an assistant coach, the club announced Tuesday.

Mastroeni, 44, makes the move from Houston where he was a Dynamo assistant coach since Nov. 2019. RSL will send $50,000 in General Allocation Money to the Dynamo as part of the deal. 

“Pablo is a great fit for us for three main reasons – his experience as a coach, his experience as a player and his reputation as a great person,” RSL head coach Freddy Juarez said in a team release. “He has the experience of being a head coach in this league. He understands the demands of this league as a coach and as a player. As a player, he brings a high pedigree as an international player that played in a World Cup.  We are a young and developing team and we need people that have been there and seen it. On top of that, he’s a great person and for me that was important.”

The former USMNT standout had a decorated history with Colorado. As a defensive midfielder, Mastroeni played with the Rapids for more than 11 years before joining the LA Galaxy, where he spent the 2013 season. He wore the captain’s armband in Colorado and currently holds the club record for most games played with 225, most games started with 217 and most minutes played with 18,669 minutes.

“What really resonated with me was the culture that Freddy is building, how he goes about his work and how I’d be utilized,” Mastroeni said.  “One of the things that I think is really important is culture.  If the environment is great, you increase your odds of having a great campaign and I look forward to contributing to that with the staff at Real Salt Lake.”

Interestingly, Mastroeni was at the focal point of the match in 2006 that lit the fuse for the Rocky Mountain Cup rivalry with an emphatic post-match celebration in response to incessant heckling from RSL fans that drew the ire of then Real Salt Lake owner Dave Checketts.

Mastroeni then became the Rapids head coach in 2013 and led them to their best regular season in club history with 58 points in 2016, finishing second behind Oscar Pareja in the voting for MLS Coach of the Year.

He parted ways with the Rapids midway through the 2017 season, replaced by Steve Cooke.

Mastroeni earned 65 caps over eight years with the USMNT, making his debut in 2001 and playing in a pair of FIFA World Cups in 2002 and 2006.