Following a wet and windy week in Houston, the Colorado Rapids head for what are forecast to be sunnier skies as they get set to spend five days in Las Vegas.
The squad arrives on Wednesday, before tackling UNLV in a practice scrimmage on Friday. The main focus of the trip will be a meeting with MLS rivals Chivas USA, at Sam Boyd Stadium on Sunday, kick-off 8.30pm MT, in the Las Vegas ProSoccerChallenge.
A year is a long time in soccer. Twelve months ago, Chivas overcame the Rapids 3-0 at the same venue in a preseason friendly. Goals from Eric Avila, Juan Agudelo and Jose Correa proved the difference.
The Rapids starting line-up that night included Pablo Mastroeni, who was edging his way back after an injury-riddled 2012. His playing career with the Rapids came to an end in June of last year, at the end of which he announced his retirement from soccer. Within a matter of weeks, he was back at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park as Special Assistant to the Technical Director and taking charge of first-team duties.
And so, a year on from that fixture, Mastroeni will view this meeting from a new position, and one that he is swiftly becoming comfortable with. Surrounded by able assistants Steve Cooke, John Metgod and Chris Sharpe, the former Rapids skipper will continue the countdown to the 2014 season with the trip to Nevada, knowing that their opening MLS contest will be less than four weeks away.
Following the date with Chivas USA, now under the guidance of former Rapids assistant coach Wilmer Cabrera, the team will have just 24 hours back in Colorado, before they depart for Tucson, Arizona and the Desert Diamond Cup presented by FC Tucson. Here they tackle more MLS competition, in the form of Chicago Fire and Real Salt Lake, as well as a second meeting with Chivas USA.
You can follow the preseason progress of the Colorado Rapids via twitter: @ColoradoRapids