Shortly after Pablo Mastroeni was officially named Head Coach of the Colorado Rapids at The Celtic Tavern in downtown Denver, he took off to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park to stand on the sidelines for the first time with his new title during today’s intrasquad scrimmage.
The scrimmage kicked off at 3 p.m. on a sunny and luke-warm Saturday, with the gates of the stadium open to the public and approximately 200 fans in the stands. Split into two squads, burgundy and blue, the Rapids played a full 90 minute match.
The teams were:
Burgundy - John Berner; Brenton Griffiths, Jared Watts, Grant Van De Casteele, Marc Burch, Marvin Chavez, Marlon Hairston (Enda O’Neill 46’), Samuel Galindo, Charles Eloundou, Kamani Hill, Vicente Sánchez.
Blue - Chris Sharpe; Shane O’Neill, Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor, Chris Klute; Dillon Serna, Nick LaBrocca, Nathan Sturgis, Dillon Powers, Gabriel Torres, Edson Buddle.
Both sides showed promise in the first half, though neither found the net. An impressive combination between Dillon Serna and Dillon Powers led to a Serna goal, but it was ruled out for offside.
It was Gabriel Torres in the second half who opened scoring for his Blue team. He dribbled down the left side of the penalty box and finished nicely past goalkeeper Chris Sharpe, the team’s head goalkeeper coach. Vicente Sánchez responded shortly after with a clinical finish for a 1-1 score, and then late in the second half played Kamani Hill back at the top of the six yard box for a one-touch goal and the 2-1 victory for team Burgundy.
At halftime, Marlon Hairston subbed out with some pain in his knee, allowing Rapids Academy player Enda O’Neill to enter the match, playing opposite his older brother Shane for the second half. Seven other Academy players were called up to dress for the game (Nathan Braaten, Jovanni Chavez, Miles Chow, Kortne Ford, Isaac Martinez, Quentin Pearson, and Tucker Schneider), but none saw playing time.
After the final whistle, the players and coaches thanked the fans for coming out and then did a 15 minute jog to cool down.
On what he got out of today’s scrimmage:
It was a good opportunity to see both sides of the ball. Usually in scrimmages in training you’re trying to focus on one aspect of the game, whether it’s defense or offense, and I think the transition moments in the game are the most important. I think today was a good opportunity to see the guys react in real quick situations and in a game-like manner. There were a lot of great attacking moments in the game and I think collectively as a team there were good defensive moments as well. We’re going to have to tidy it up all year long, but it was two good teams playing really hard and it was really exciting for us to watch.
On whether he’s got a Starting XI picked out yet:
I think the team is shaping. The guys out there, today, like every day, they make it really hard to pick a team and that’s what you want as a coaching staff. To be able to sift through some very good players and very good performances. That’s what we’re going to have to do this week, and we have a decent idea as to how we want to go. There’s training this week, there’s niggling injuries, there’s all kinds of personal stuff that every player has to endure. We have to pick an 18, which is going to be very hard, and then we have to break that down to 11.
On who impressed him during today’s scrimmage:
The thing that keeps standing out for me is the young guys that keep stepping up and really staking a claim to really make their presence felt. They’re playing really well in and amongst some very great veterans and again, the guys that have been around, they never cease to amaze with how they carry themselves as pros and come out on the field and put forth a great effort. But it’s the young guys who continue to push the bar, and they have to carve out a name for themselves and every training session and every game they keep stepping their game up. It’s great things to have and collectively it makes us better as a team.
BACK IN THE GAME
As Joe Nasco remains out while awaiting the birth of his first child, and Clint Irwin continues to recover from a minor quad strain, Rapids goalkeeper coach Chris Sharpe took one for the team today and stepped into goal on the Blue team opposite John Berner. When ColoradoRapids.com asked him after the game how it felt to return between the pipes, Sharpe responded with a laugh and “I’m tired and sore.”
The announcement about Colorado's new head coach was made today at the Centennial 38 Kickoff Party, held at The Celtic Tavern in downtown Denver. Hundreds of fans packed the bar/restaurant, which was decorated with scarves, flags and tifo to welcome in the new addition. After the announcement, C38 leaders presented Mastroeni with his own set of C38 pint glasses, and a three-picture frame of their favorite "Pablo Moments', including one of him kissing the MLS Cup.