Under sunny skys and warm temps for a January day, the Colorado Rapids officially kicked off preseason Wednesday on the turf fields at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
Pablo Mastroeni, who was assigned to oversee the first team, ran the 90-minute session that featured 23 players, including the team's six SuperDraft picks and three additional players on trial.
"Things are great," Mastroeni said afterwards. "I’ve been put in charge to lead the team here in the preseason and I think, with the coaching staff, we have put together a pretty good schedule for the preseason. We’ve been plotting out the last couple of weeks and now it’s just making it happen, getting out on the field. The first three days have been wonderful and the attitude has been great. The guys have been hungry, so it’s going well."
The team was split in different groups over the past few days to undergo various fitness and medical test. Wednesday marked the first time the group trained as a unit. They'll have one more session in Colorado on Thursday before departing for Houston on Friday.
The current roster consists of 25 players under contract. On the first day, 24 of the players were present, though eight did not participate in the drills. Additionally, seven other players hoping to earn spots took part in the full session.
Of the signed player, the ones that trained on Wednesday were:
- Clint Irwin, Drew Moor, Marvell Wynne, Kory Kindle, Grant Van De Casteele, Dillon Serna, Nathan Sturgis, Nick LaBrocca, Marvin Chavez, Marlon Hairston, Vicente Sanchez, Marc Burch, Kamani Hill, Gabriel Torres, Edson Buddle and Charles Eloundou.
Dillon Powers, Deshorn Brown, Chris Klute, Shane O'Neill, Brian Mullan, Brenton Griffiths, Davy Armstrong and Danny Mwanga watched from the sidelines. MORE HERE
While SuperDraft picks Marlon Hairston and Grant Van De Casteele were signed by MLS before the draft, the club's other four draft selections are here looking to secure a contract. Second rounders Jared Watts (midfielder) and John Berner (goalkeeper), third round pick Tolani Ibikunle and fourth round selection Albert Edward also participated in full.
ON TRIAL 2.0:
Besides the unsigned draft picks and Arsenal midfielder Samuel Galindo, the other two players on trial on the first day were goalkeeper Joe Nasco and midfielder Juan Guzman - who both spent 2013 in top-flight minor leagues in the U.S.
Nasco, 29, starred for the Atlanta Silverbacks last season, being named to the NASL Best XI after a spring season in which he helped the team to the title by playing 19 games, winning seven and keeping four shutouts. Guzman, 25, has been with the Charlotte Eagles since 2010, playing a total of 68 league games with two goals and an assist in a defensive midfield role. He was invited after excelling at the recently completed Rapids Tryout Combine.
WHO ISN'T HERE: The only signed player missing was goalkeeper Matt Pickens, who Mastroeni said was "an excused' absence.