Commerce City, Colo. - Before the team even arrived at Dick's Sporting Goods Park Friday morning, coach Oscar Pareja had already decided that captain Pablo Mastroeni would not be making the trip to the east coast to face the New York Red Bulls on Sunday (2 pm MT, ESPN).
"It will be a test for all of us to strengthen ourselves to face adversities," Pareja said as the team departed for the airport. "The season is long and there will be moments where we won't be able to count on important players."
Mastroeni did not train this week after experiencing headaches and symptoms related to a hit he took to the head in the season opener on March 10.
Despite the loss of Mastroeni and midfielder partner Jeff Larentowizc, who is serving a one-game suspension, other team veterans are confident with who ever takes the field.
"It's always difficult," said midfielder Brian Mullan. "Jeff and Pablo have been staples of this team for a while now. But now we have to look to the other players to step in and show why they are here."
The final 14 minutes of last Sunday's 2-1 win in Philadelphia was the first time that neither Mastroeni nor Larentowicz were on the field for a Rapids regular season since Larentowicz joined the team prior to the start of the 2010 season.
"Pablo and Jeff are a very big part of this team, and they leaves a big holes to fill," he said. "But we have some fantastic midfielders and some good leaders on this team that can step right in and make a difference. It is tough, but we have a deep enough squad and have a good game plan going into New York."
Midfielders Wells Thompson and Ross LaBauex could be starting options as both players came on to close out last week's game, with LaBauex entering for Mastroeni.
The Rapids are also optimistic that another option is Martin Rivero, who traveled with the team to New York. However, he has yet to be cleared to play as the U.S. Soccer Federation awaits to hear from FIFA regarding Rivero's international registration transfer from Argentina.