There's something about jumping into the deep end of a cold pool. Sometimes, making that leap before really even getting your feet wet is the best way to get acclimated.
Forward Joe Mason certainly didn't have much time to settle in after arriving in the United States mid-week and suiting up with his new teammates just days later against the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium.
"It was a bit crazy meeting the team in Boston the night before a game, but I got chucked in the deep end and that’s probably the best way to meet the team," said Mason.
Luckily, Mason spotted a few familiar faces in the locker room. He quickly linked up with his former Wolves teammate Jack Price, and knew defenders Tommy Smith and Danny Wilson from past battles on the pitch.
“He [Price] only had good things to say, really. He sealed the deal for me,” said Mason. “Him being here made things a lot easier for me. It’s good to come to Denver and start training with the boys. The’ve helped me settle in really well.”
Although the 26-year-old was an unused sub in the New England match, Mason used the bye week and extra training sessions to get up to speed with his new club.
The work Mason showcased was enough to impress his new boss as he was selected to make his MLS debut from the start in front of a sold-out crowd at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park against Sporting KC on March 24.
The forward’s shining moment came just eight minutes after the opening whistle. He brought down a long ball and managed to hold off Matt Besler long enough to slot his shot past goalkeeper Tim Melia. It was a cool and calm finish you’d expect out of a veteran goal-scorer.
“Personally, it’s nice to get the goal,” said Mason. “As a striker, it’s one of the first things you think of. It’s a bit of a weight off of my shoulders.”
After his opening night performance Mason’s expectations are sky high.
“Personally myself, I want to bring goals to the team,” said Mason. “That’s what I’m all about. I want to get in the box and score goals. It’s as simple as that, really. I’ve only been here for a bit over two weeks now. Everyone is getting used to the manager's [Anthony Hudson] ideas. I think we showed it in bits and bobs on the weekend, but it’s just about putting it into 90 minutes now, and that’s what we’re looking to do.”
With his first MLS minutes under his belt, Mason and his new teammates know the next step in their progression is to secure a first home win of the season as the Rapids face the Philadelphia Union on March 31.
“I know they [Philadelphia Union] like to play good football. They’ve got some attacking threats,” said Mason. “It’s up to us really. We cant look too much at the opposition. We need to sort out our own issues first, and if we do that I’m positive we can get a result."