The date was May 23, 2001. That's the last time Pablo Mastroeni played a game against the Colorado Rapids. Back then, he was a member of the since-contracted Miami Fusion, for which he made eight appearances against Colorado from 1998-2001.
Fast forward more than 12 years - which he spent roaming the midfield for the Rapids - and Mastroeni is set to return to Colorado on Saturday wearing a different jersey. This time, that of the LA Galaxy.
“My favorite part of Colorado besides the players that I was in the trenches with all those years and the organization were the fans that came out in crazy weather to support the team,’ Mastroeni told LAGalaxy.com this week. “Who knows how I’ll be received, but there were a lot of fun memories in Dick’s Sporting Goods Park."
It has been five weeks since the Rapids traded Mastroeni to LA, granting a request by the former team captain in the latter stages of his career. Since arriving in California, he has made five appearances for the Galaxy. After totaling 29 minutes in his first four appearances off the bench, the veteran started LA's last match, going 78 minutes in a 2-1 win over Vancouver last Saturday.
It's a foregone conclusion that he'll one day be added to the Rapids Gallery of Honor. But on Saturday, he'll likely be on the other side of the support he'd always experienced. Rapids fans are familiar with the fire that Mastroeni displays on the field, and they know he'll be doing whatever he can to help his new team win the game - as he did for so many years in Colorado.
“I just think that it is great to go back to a place that I’ve been for 12 years and get a result at a crucial point in the season,” Mastroeni told his team's website. “I’ll be playing in front of a lot of people that are close to me. It’s a special game, but looking at it from my perspective, it’s a big game because what it means to this club.”
The Rapids are riding a five-game unbeaten streak heading into Saturday's match against the defending MLS Cup champions, which kicks off at 5 p.m. MT (TICKETS).