MLS lost one of their all-time greats on Tuesday as Pablo Mastroeni retired on Tuesday ending his illustrious 16 year playing career.
A hard-charging field general in central midfield, Mastroeni calls full time on a career that saw him suit up for the Miami Fusion, Colorado Rapids and LA Galaxy while making 334 MLS regular season appearances (eighth all-time in league history), playing 27,522 minutes and earning 316 starts (both fifth most all-time). The veteran defensive midfielder was also a fixture on the U.S. National Team for nearly a decade as he made appearances in the 2006 and 2006 FIFA World Cups making a total of five appearances. However, he also played in four CONCACAF Gold Cups—winning in 2005 and 2007 –as well as making an appearance at the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2003.
My lasting memories of Mastroeni stem from the grit that he showcased on the field breaking up opposition attacks and the eloquence that he displayed when answering questions from journalists. A remembrance of Mastroeni’s career is not complete without discussing his confident performance in the U.S. historic 2-0 victory over Mexico in the 2002 FIFA World Cup round of 16 as he befuddled El Tri’s Cuauhtémoc Blanco and his ability to lead the Colorado Rapids to the 2010 MLS Cup.
During his brief time with the Galaxy, it was always interesting to see him impart his advice on the club’s young players of all positions -- like Jack McBean who actually lived with Mastroeni in Manhattan Beach toward the end of the season -- who were eager to learn from a league great.
What’s next for Mastroeni? The tough as nails yet cerebral midfielder could head into coaching in some capacity with the Colorado Rapids. With his family still in Colorado, Mastroeni could spread his extensive knowledge of the game while also staying close to home. The Rapids have stated that they intend to honor Mastroeni for his service to their club at a ceremony during one of their home matches in 2014.
But no matter what Mastroeni decides to do with the next stage of his life, he’ll always be remembered as one of the league’s greats.
Below are some memories from a few others from around the league:
Pablo Mastroeni was someone you wanted on your team both on the field and off because he made it that much more worth it. #legend
— Taylor Twellman (@TaylorTwellman) December 10, 2013
— U.S. Soccer (@ussoccer) December 10, 2013
Probably nobody in the sport that I respect more than Pab's. What an honor to play next to a legend. My Captain forever... #ThanksPablo
— Drew Moor (@drewmoor) December 10, 2013
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) December 10, 2013
What’s your favorite Pablo Mastroeni memory?
Share them below.
One of the league's all-time greats announced his retirement on Tuesday ending a 16 year career in MLS that ended with a brief stop with the LA Galaxy. Along the way, Mastroeni appeared in two World Cups in 2002 and 2006 while spending his entire career playing between the Miami Fusion, Colorado Rapids and the Galaxy. Mastroeni had been out of contract with MLS and was available for the 2013 MLS Re-Entry Process before announcing his retirement.
“After spending the last 16 years playing in Major League Soccer and with the U.S. National Team, I have decided that this is the appropriate time to retire from the game,” Mastroeni said in a statement. “I am honored to have spent my entire professional club career playing in MLS and I now look forward to watching this league continue to grow as I begin the next stage of my life.”
During his time in MLS, Mastroeni made the MLS All-Star team nine times and currently ranks eighth in league hstory with 334 regular season games played, fifth in all-time games started with 316 while scoring seven goals and 27 over his illustrious career.
“We’d like to congratulate Pablo on his 16-year professional career,” said LA Galaxy General Manager and Head Coach Bruce Arena in a statement. “Pablo is a special player who made every team he was on better. His presence, work ethic and enthusiasm for the game made him a successful player on both the club and National Team level. We wish Pablo well in the next step of his career.”
What is your favorite memory of his career?
Share it below.
LA Galaxy Academy forward Haji Wright scored in the U.S. Under-17's 2-1 defeat to Portugal at the Nike International Friendlies on Monday.
Wright scored in the 13th minute to give the U.S. a lead, but the Europeans quickly answered with a goal in the 27th minute to tie the score. Portugal took the lead for good in stoppage time to defeat the Americans.
The U.S. return to action on Wednesday against England who fell 2-1 to Brazil in their first match.
There’s a number of intriguing players up for selection in the 2013 MLS Re-Entry Draft Process and I’ve highlighted four prospects that may be of interest for the Galaxy in either Stage One or Stage Two of the process.
As one point, all four of these players are selections that I would anticipate in Stage Two when teams can renegotiate their salary numbers. I also won’t be selecting players who were on the Galaxy’s squad in 2013 although Franklin and Courtois are interesting options to possibly return.
One of the most exciting players on the list, Espindola struggled in his only season with the New York Red Bulls, but could be a valuable asset to a Galaxy squad searching for further scoring options.
Espindola scored nine goals in 28 appearances with New York with two assists after being traded from RSL. Prior to his time with NYRB, Espindola was a dangerous weapon for Real Salt Lake scoring 35 league goals with 17 assists in six seasons with the club.
During that time, Espindola scored four times against the Galaxy as he was able to terrorize LA with his speed and finishing ability.
The LA Galaxy are searching to add a target forward and former FC Dallas forward Kenny Cooper could be that option.
Cooper can be versatile even playing on the wing in some occasions but he may be able to benefit the Galaxy with his size and aerial threat. That being said, Cooper is likely to be a costly option for a Galaxy team that is likely to reshape its payroll amount in the coming years. The 29-year-old scored six goals for FCD in 31 appearances in 2013.
Cheaper options could include Andre Akpan formerly of the Colorado Rapids or Toronto FC’s Justin Braun.
DEWAYNE DE ROSARIO
The 2011 MLS MVP is an extremely intriguing selection, but is coming off a season that saw him make 24 appearances and score just three goals for a D.C. United side that finished at the bottom of MLS.
Despite his tough season, there’s no doubt that De Rosario has the type of finishing touch and playmaking ability that could make him an asset for the Galaxy alongside Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan. Plus with Donovan expected to be away for several matches due to international commitments next season, De Rosario could be an apt stopgap.
All this may be moot; however, as according to a report in the Toronto Sun, his former club Toronto FC is open to bringing back the Canadian international. De Rosario isn’t the only MLS MVP on the list, however, as he’s joined by 2010 selection David Ferreira who saw his option declined by FC Dallas.
Calen Carr has had major health issues over the past two seasons, but when healthy, Carr has the type of speed that could make him useful in 2014 for LA.
Staying fit has been the knock against Carr who has dealt with knee and concussion issues over the last several years. Although Carr was predominantly used a forward in Houston, the 2012 MLS Cup goal scorer could transition to a wide role with the Galaxy where he could use his speed to stretch defenses.
Plus with his injury concerns, Carr would likely be a cheap low risk, high reward option for the Galaxy. Similar to this idea could be ex-Seattle Sounders FC midfielder Steve Zakuani who was one of the Sounders’ regulars before a dramatic knee injury in 2012 or former New England Revolution outside back Kevin Alston.
*For options that may be further down the list, but players like Yordany Alvarez and Bobby Boswell may be interesting options as is Joel Lindpere.
The LA Galaxy will have four players available for the 2013 MLS Re-Entry Process including 2008 MLS Rookie of the Year Sean Franklin.
The Galaxy declined options on Colin Clark, Laurent Courtois and Sean Franklin while Pablo Mastroeni was out of contract. Franklin made 40 appearances in all competitions for the Galaxy in 2013 with two goals and three assists. Clark, who joined LA in the 2012 Re-Entry process made just 13 appearances much of them at the start of the season while both Mastroeni and Courtois—each acquired in midseason trades—made less than 13 appearances.
Stage One of the Re-Entry Process will take place on Dec. 12 at 12 p.m. PT while Stage Two will take place on Dec. 18 at 12 p.m. PT. Remember that little action typically takes place in Stage One as clubs have to sign a player at their 2013 salary or extend a Bona Fide Offer to that player and teams have until Dec. 11 to negotiate with those players made eligible for the process. Following the first stage, the action typically gets even more heated as teams look to either bring back players or make selections in Stage Two of the process.
The field is set for the 2013 NCAA College Cup at PPL Park in Philadelphia.
Maryland, who produced Galaxy stars A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez and Robbie Rogers, booked their ticket to the national championship in Philadelphia with a 2-1 victory over California in Berkeley on Saturday. They'll face Virginia, who rose to soccer prominence under the leadership of Bruce Arena, who led the Cavaliers to five titles in 18 years as the team's head coach. The Cavaliers defeated the North Carolina 1-0 last Friday.
In the other semifinal, New Mexico will take on Notre Dame after defeating Washington 1-0 in Seattle. Notre Dame defeated Michigan State 2-1
LA Galaxy Academy product Haji Wright has been called up for the U.S. Under-17's roster for the upcoming 2013 Nike International Friendlies.
U.S. U-17 head coach Richie Williams' 20-man group will face Portugal on Monday before matches against England on Dec. 11 and Brazil on Dec. 13 at the Premier Sports Campus in Lakewood, Florida. It is Wright's second inclusion in the U.S. U-17 roster in less than a month as he took part in the nation's U-17's friendlies with Canada in November.
The roster includes eight players from California.
The complete roster is below...
GOALKEEPERS (2): William Pulisic (Richmond Strikers; Mechanicsville, Va.), Kevin Silva (PDA; Bethlehem, Pa.)
DEFENDERS (7): Hugo Arellano (Chivas USA Academy; Norwalk, Calif.), Daniel Barbir (Unattached; Allentown, Pa.), George Braima (Crew Soccer Academy; Columbus, Ohio), Edwin Lara (unattached; San Leandro, Calif.), John Nelson (Internationals; Medina, Ohio), Matthew Olosunde (New York Red Bulls Academy; Trenton, N.J.), Alexis Velela (San Diego Surf; San Diego, Calif.)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Eric Calvillo (Real So Cal; Palmdale, Calif.), Luca De La Torre (Fulham; San Diego, Calif.), Thomas McCabe (PDA; South Orange, N.J.), Logan Panchot (St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri; St. Louis, Mo), Brian Zelaya (De Anza Force; San Mateo, Calif.), Alejandro Zendejas (FC Dallas Academy; El Paso, Texas)
FORWARDS (5): Pierre Da Silva (New York Soccer Club; Port Chester, N.Y.), Joe Gallardo (Monterrey FC; San Diego, Calif.), Joshua Perez (unattached; La Habra, Calif.), Christian Pulisic (PA Classics; Hershey, Pa.), Haji Wright (LA Galaxy Academy); Los Angeles, Calif.
MLS and adidas unveiled the 2014 Match Ball on Sunday.
The 2014 adidas MLS Match Ball which is based on the "Brazuca," the official ball for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. According to MLS, the colors are meant to represent "a heart, as the ball is the heart of the soccer and MLS."
What are your thoughts on the new MLS match ball?
On Friday, I told you that the U.S. National Team's draw into Group G with Germany, Portugal and Ghana at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil isn't an impossible one, and LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena seems to agree.
In his latest article in the Los Angeles Times, Arena states that the U.S. will be competitive and even states that he expects them to advance from the Group.
Arena's choices to advance from the groups are as followed, but remember they are not necessarily the positions that the teams will finish.
Group A: Brazil and Croatia. Group B: Spain and Netherlands. Group C: Colombia and Ivory Coast. Group D: Uruguay and Italy. Group E: Ecuador and France. Group F: Argentina and Nigeria. Group G: Germany and United States. Group H: Belgium and Russia.
Arena's choices several months out led me to make my own decisions which you can see below. Now remember that these could -- and probably will -- change as the months go by.
Group A: Brazil and Mexico. Group B: Spain and Netherlands. Group C: Colombia and Japan. Group D: Uruguay and Italy. Group E: France and Honduras. Group F: Argentina and Nigeria. Group G: Germany and United States. Group H: Belgium and Russia.
LA Galaxy center back Omar Gonzalez has been featured on the cover of the latest edition of Overlap magazine.
In addition to being placed on the cover, Gonzalez is the subject of a piece titled "The Happiest Man in Los Angeles County" is a selection of photos by New York photographer Matt Rubin.
A teaser photo of Omar playing a mean air saxophone can be seen below.