Pablo Mastroeni vs. wolf
Rudy Calderon / MLSsoccer.com

Colorado Rapids manager Pablo Mastroeni weighs in on man vs. wolf debate

Pablo Mastroeni’s motivational prowess as a head coach, which has already made several appearances in postgame press conferences over recent years, helped him lead the Colorado Rapids last year to within three points of an MLS Supporters’ Shield against all odds.

Impossible is nothing for Mastroeni. And that philosophy also applies to former NFL star Arian Foster and the man vs. wolf debate he ignited with a social media post that has been devoured by media outlets with the ferocity of a wolf pack.

Sucked into the topic earlier this week on a local Denver sports radio show on Altitude Sports 950, Mastroeni responded the way you’d imagine him to:

“Listen, I think a lot of it comes down to belief,” Mastroeni said, half-seriously. "I think If he [Foster] thinks he can overcome a wolf, that means he’s willing to stay there even when the wolf is taking off one of his arms, I think he’s going to prove a point.”

“It’s just a flesh wound,” continued Mastroeni, citing the line from a scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail when the Black Knight loses his limbs in a sword fight.

“[Foster] is a pretty big guy and I had him on my [NFL] fantasy team for a few years,” Mastroeni stated. "I’m going to back Arian Foster on this one.”

You just never know where the line of questions will go on a weekly coach’s radio segment. For example, how many players can dunk a basketball on the Rapids?

"[Dominique] Badji, Tim Howard used to be able to and Axel [Sjoberg, 6-foot-7] because he’s 10 feet if he extends his arms over his head,” Mastroeni responded during the same radio interview.

And how about another: Hey Pablo, are you on social media where you can feast on delicacies like the man-vs-wolf debate?

“I’m not on social media because when I was a player I remember reading some of the stuff journalists would write and it’s really interesting and psychologists say it: You begin to believe what you read, whether it’s true or not,” Mastroeni said. "And so I basically did away with all of it and began to just write my own stories and reflect on my things by writing in a journal.

"I feel I’m disconnected from the world at times, but I have the emails and phone numbers of all the people who are important to me."

Of course, Mastroeni did tackle the upcoming Week 2 match against the New York Red Bulls (4 pm ET on UniMás). “I think he’s available for the weekend,” he said about star goalkeeper Tim Howard’s recovery from a groin injury.

And skillful winger Shkelzen Gashi looks to be back, too, as he’s set to return from an inflamed Achilles tendon during the preseason. “Really looking forward to integrating him into the group this weekend,” Mastroeni said about Gashi who’s “been with the group for about two weeks now consistently."

The Rapids already won their first match of this season (1-0 vs. New England), but they could use all the help they can get at Red Bull Arena, where they are winless in five all-time matches (0-2-3 record), including two 1-1 draws under Mastroeni in 2014 and 2015.

“[The Red Bulls] pride themselves on being a very good pressing team, winning the ball higher up the field and then with as few passes to go quickly and score,” Mastroeni said. "They’re a transition team, dynamic in what they do, but in doing that they’re also susceptible at the back and they leave a lot of space behind their back line.

"So I think it’s going to be a very exciting game because we excel in transition, as well. We’ve got players who like to get behind the back four when we get the ball. It could be a back-and-forth open game of soccer, but I think we’ll find moments where we can pause it and dictate the pace of the game on our terms. And if we can do that more times than not, we put ourselves in a favorable position to get a good result."