Pablo Mastroeni is heading back to Colorado, and he's back in a very unique role.
The Rapids announced Friday that Mastroeni has joined the team's technical staff and will hold the position of special assistant to technical director Paul Bravo. Mastroeni will begin his new job by helping Bravo with the club's efforts at the MLS adidas Player Combine and SuperDraft in the coming days.
Additionally, Colorado also announced the retirement of midfielder Jamie Smith and that the Scotsman will join the club's academy coaching staff, in charge of the Rapids U-18 squad. Both Mastroeni and Smith were key figures on the 2010 MLS Cup-winning Rapids squad.
“In addition to a playing career that few can rival, Pablo is also an intelligent, passionate leader who has the respect of everyone in our organization,” Rapids president Tim Hinchey said in a statement. “His experience as a player, knowledge and understanding of the Rapids and our goals, and dedication to the growth of this club will serve us well moving forward.”
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The 37-year-old Mastroeni finished his illustrious playing career in 2013 and is Colorado’s most decorated player, having been named to the MLS All-Star team in his first seven years with the club (2002-2008), and earning Rapids MVP honors in 2007, 2008 and 2010. He currently holds club records for most games played (225), games started (217) and minutes played (18,669), and served as the Rapids' captain from late 2004 until his trade to the LA Galaxy during the 2013 season.
“I’m excited at the opportunity to return to the Rapids and get started in my coaching career,” Mastroeni said. “This is a great chance for me here at the club and in the state that I call home. I’m looking forward to finding some talented young players at the Combine and SuperDraft, and then seeing them on the training field back in Colorado in a couple weeks.”
A native of Alexandria, Scotland, Smith signed with the Rapids in mid-2009 before leading the club with eight assists in 22 matches in 2010, helping the Rapids win the MLS Cup. He played 20 regular-season games in 2011 but suffered an ACL tear in the playoffs, which forced him to miss most of 2012, playing 10 matches at the end of the season and scoring twice.
In 2013, Smith made six appearances (one start), scoring the Rapids’ first goal of the season, a curling, left-footed effort against Philadelphia on March 10 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. In his MLS career, Smith played 62 games (39 starts), scoring seven goals and adding 13 assists.
“While stepping away from the game as a player is difficult, I’m excited for this new challenge and the opportunity to remain with the Rapids and [Kroenke Sports Entertainment],” Smith said in a statement. “...Winning MLS Cup in 2010 was a highlight of my career, and now I hope I can help develop the next generation of players to win another cup.”