Beat

12 December 9:36 am

We discussed the recently retired Pablo Mastroeni’s career in part one of my Q&A with the veteran midfielder, but in part two, we look at his life after soccer and what he’ll be planning to do next as he looks to move on from the game that he's played for decades.

Read it below.

LAGI: “Going back to Colorado seems to be a natural move here especially with your family being unable to sell your home.”

“The word destiny is appropriate here. I’ve had my house on the market for the last six months and it sold once, then the people backed out and for whatever reason it didn’t sell. I just kept thinking that there was a reason for all this because at some point, you just have to heed the omens. For me, the kids love it, my wife loves it and I love it as well. I just thought that life would take me to different places, but it hasn’t. As long as it doesn’t sell, it looks like we’ll just stay in Colorado and it’s looking more and more like we’re just going to take the house off the market. That way we can settle in here as I go into the next phase of my career as I look to start a soccer school focusing on youth development without having to worry about results on the weekend. It’ll be a way to give back because I’ve had great coaches throughout my career that inspired me and now I want to put my own spin on [the game] to help develop young players in Colorado."

LAGI: “Have you had any conversations with the Colorado Rapids about working for their club academy?"

PM: "We haven’t had any conversations at the moment. I’d like to work with the Colorado Rapids in some capacity, but that’s the competitive side of soccer that says we’re an academy just like the Galaxy and we want to get results on the weekend. My mindset is that we sometimes put so much of a focus on winning at a young age that we miss some steps along the way. I think that we keep talking about how even though American soccer is growing; it’s not a powerhouse in the world. We have the greatest resources in the world, we have the greatest athletes in the world, and my view is that we only lack true player development where the focus is solely on developing players without the distraction of results. I think that kids do enjoy the competition which is great, but you see these soccer schools in Europe where there are many kids who are eight or nine and already destined for first team football. If you walk around the United States, you find maybe one six-year-old or five-year-old who can do that. Now I’m not saying we should train kids at age three, but just to put more focus on player development and supplement what they’re not getting from the clubs due to the focus on winning.”

LAGI: “What is going to be your philosophy for this soccer school?"

PM: "I don’t want to do what has been going on for the last number of years. I think the U.S. Soccer curriculum that Claudio Reyna put together is exceptional, but I want to take from my own experience and travels in order to figure out what we’re not doing [as a country]. If I just followed what everyone else is doing then we’re probably going to get the same results. I want to take the experiences that I learned and put together a different type of curriculum that focuses 100 percent on development and zero on results which I hope can produce more complete and talented soccer players.

"I believe that anything that you do in life that you’re good at becomes eventually much more fun. If you have complete dominion of the ball and are aware of the game, then the game will be that much more fun which will lead to greater success as the player moves into high school and onward.  The other part for me is that it is something that you have to do many repetitions, but still keep it fun for the kids. I have a lot to carve out and think about but I really feel that it could be a nice thing for the youth to experience and get a leg up. I think that teaching the ages of six through 15 would be great.”

LAGI: "You've always been a reflective person so have you ever just thought about what the game of soccer has given you -- helping you meet your wife, allowing you to go to two World Cups. It's certainly been a ride."

PM: “I’ve pondered it quite a bit and it’s been so good to me because it kept me out of trouble in high school. I could have been different but I always went to training and it kept me in line. When you think about all that I’ve seen in my wife and kids. Plus, I hadn’t realized it until a couple years ago but my wife’s family and my family were still getting together for barbeques to watch my games so the game of soccer was a way that my extended family was able to stay together. That’s why I want to start this soccer school because kids would enjoy learning about these experiences that I’ve had while also coming to understand that the game of soccer really mimics the lessons that you learn in life.

LAGI: "Lastly, in just a few weeks your old teammates across the league will be returning to training for preseason while Pablo Mastroeni will be picking up his kids from school. What will that be like?"

PM: “I talked to quite a few guys while I was contemplating my retirement and one of them was [D.C. United head coach and former U.S. National Team player] Ben Olsen. He said ‘the best part of retirement is that you don’t have to go into preseason, you don’t have to train on Tuesday for a game on Saturday. You’re going to love your retirement.’ Now coming from a guy that took it as seriously as he did, it really helped drive it home. I need to find my competitive edge in something else and hopefully starting a soccer school will allow me to educate myself and gets my juices flowing. I know that there won’t be any substitute from being under the lights, at an opposing team’s stadium trying to get a result, and I know that I can’t mimic that. For me, it’ll be tough once the season gets going but for as far as preseason, I won’t miss that one bit.”

11 December 7:32 pm

LA Galaxy Academy Forward Haji Wright continued his torrid scoring pace with the U.S. Under-17 with two goals in the U.S. Under-17’s 5-1 victory over England at the Nike International Friendlies in Florida.

Wright bagged two goals in the victory, but C.F. Monterrey Academy product Joe Gallardo was the hero with a hat trick against the English. Although Wright was one of the stars of the match, he was stretched off the field in the closing minutes after a hard challenge from an England defender.  The U.S. will face Brazil – who tied Portugal 1-1 earlier on Wednesday—in the final match on Dec. 13 at 2 p.m. PT.

Wright wasn't the only success for the LA Galaxy Academy as LA’s Under-18’s defeated New Jersey’s Player Development Academy 2-0 with goals by Jaime Villarreal and Christian Chavez.  The U-18's return to action on Dec. 12 against the FC Dallas Academy. Meanwhile, the LA Under-16's begin their participation in the tournament on Dec. 12 with a match against the Carolina RailHawks Academy. 

Highlights of the U.S. victory over England are below. 

11 December 4:49 pm

The LA Galaxy Academy lost one of it's coaches on Wednesday as Under-14 head coach Greg Vanney left the position to be the Academy Director and Assistant General Manager with Toronto FC. 

Vanney served as LA's U-14 head coach and Technical Director of LA Galaxy Academy partner club LA Galaxy South Bay earlier this year. The 39-year-old had previously served as an assistant coach and Academy technical director with Chivas USA as well as Director of Soccer Operations and Director of Real Salt Lake-Arizona Youth. 

Vanney replaces former U.S. youth coach Tomas Rongen who had previously served as TFC's Academy Director. 

11 December 3:45 pm

Major League Soccer announced the top 50 college seniors that will participate in 2014 MLS adidas Player Combine in Florida on Wednesday and there is a heavy California presence on the list. 

UCLA have two players on the listas forward Victor Chavez and midfielders Victor Munoz were selected to the combine which will take place in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. from Jan. 10-14. Also included are U.C. Irvine midfielder Enrique Cardenas, U.C. Santa Barbara midfielder Kingsley Baiden and Cal Poly forward Mackenzie Pridham. 

Five additional players from Southern California were also chosen as University of California, Berkeley's highly touted defender Steve Birnbaum (Irvine, Calif.) and Cal midfielders Alec Sundly (Capistrano Beach, Calif.) and Ryan Neil (Mission Viejo) were chosen to the combine as well as Stanford midfielder J.J. Koval (Camarillo, Calif.) and Akron midfielder Aodhan Quinn (San Diego, Calif.).

The list of college seniors will be supplemented by a selection of underclassmen who earn Generation adidas contracts, international selections and players from the NCAA's lower divisions. 

The complete list of players by school is below:

Reinaldo Brenes University of Akron F San Jose, Costa Rica
Robert Derschang University of Akron D/M Englewood, Colo.
Aodhan Quinn University of Akron M San Diego, Calif.
Eric Stevenson University of Akron M Columbus, Ohio
Steve Birnbaum University of California, Berkeley D Irving, Calif.
Alec Sundly University of California, Berkeley M Capistrano Beach, Calif.
Ryan Neil University of California, Berkeley M Mission Viejo, Calif.
Enrique Cardenas University of California, Irvine F Coachella, Calif.
Victor Chavez University of California, Los Angeles F Fontana, Calif.
Victor Munoz University of California, Los Angeles M Madrid, Spain
Mackenzie Pridham California Polytechnic State University F Toronto, Ontario
Kingsley Baiden University of California, Santa Barbara M Ajumako, Ghana
Tyler Gibson University of Charlotte M Knoxville, Tenn.
Thomas McNamara Clemson University M West Nyack, N.Y.
Pedro Ribeiro Coastal Carolina University M/F Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Kees Heemskerk College of Charleston GK Zaandam, Netherlands
Mamadou Diouf University of Connecticut F Dakar, Senegal
George Fochive University of Connecticut M Paris, France
Zach Bolden University of Denver M/F Denver, Colo.
Daniel Lovitz Elon University M Wyndmoor, Pa.
Joey Dillon Georgetown University D/M Rochester Hills, Mich.
Steve Neumann Georgetown University M/F New Hope, Pa.
Kristopher Tyrpak Houston Baptist University F Dripping Springs, Texas
Jacob Bushue Indiana University D Champaign, Ill.
AJ Corrado Indiana University M Zionsville, Ind.
Nikita Kotlov Indiana University M Indianapolis, Ind.
Harrison Petts Indiana University M Zionsville, Ind.
Jimmy Ockford University of Louisville D Yardley, Pa.
Patrick Mullins University of Maryland F New Orleans, La.
Pete Caringi University of Maryland Baltimore County F Perry Hall, Md.
Kadeem Dacres University of Maryland Baltimore County M Rosedale, N.Y.
Mark Sherrod University of Memphis F Knoxville, Tenn.
Kevin Cope Michigan State University D Canton, Mich.
Michael Calderon University of New Mexico M San Jose, Costa Rica
Michael Kafari University of New Mexico M Accra, Ghana
Kyle Venter University of New Mexico D Aurora, Colo.
Alex Martinez North Carolina State University M/F Rock Hill, S.C.
Fabian Otte North Carolina State University GK Muenster, Germany
Grant Van de Casteele University of Notre Dame D Plano, Texas
Rafael Diaz St. John’s University GK Rockaway, N.J.
Adnan Gabeljic Saint Louis University F St. Louis, Mo.
Alex Sweetin Saint Louis University M Overland Park, Kan.
Ben Sweat University of South Florida D Palm Harbor, Fla.
JJ Koval Stanford University M Camarillo, Calif.
Romena Bowie Virginia Commonwealth University M/F Saint Mary, Jamaica
Luca Gimenez Wake Forest University M/F Sao Paulo, Brazil
Jared Watts Wake Forest University M Statesville, N.C.
Taylor Peay University of Washington D Salt Lake City, Utah
Spencer Richey University of Washington GK Seattle, Wash.
Nick Hagglund Xavier University D Cincinnati, Ohio

 

11 December 11:50 am

Pablo Mastroeni ended his illustrious career on Tuesday and I had a chance to speak to the midfielder on his favorite moments of his career and his plans for the future. 

As part one of my two part interview with Mastroeni, he discusses his career and why he decided to move on from playing.

Check it out below. 

LAGI: "What made you decide to retire at the age of 37, was being separated from your family the most important aspect?" 

PM: “In the end, that ended up the biggest part. One of the questions that I asked myself was ‘from a professional perspective, why do I want to keep playing? What’s the milestone that you want to reach?’ and to be fair, I couldn’t think of one that was so tempting that I would possibly move away from the family or relocate. At the end of the day, I have an eight-year-old boy and a six-year-old girl, and I think that these ages are critical to have good parents around. I feel like that I ended my career on my own terms as far as being healthy rather than have any injury like concussions dictate my exit. I’m stepping away from the game feeling good and ready to start a new path.”

LAGI: “How do you think that you’ll be remembered? When people look back, how will they remember Pablo Mastroeni?”

PM: Well, I don’t know, I learned in this business that you need to have a tough skin because people are going to say some good things and some will be very critical. It’ll depend on just who you ask. If you ask a casual fan, he’ll say that ‘he was just a bruiser’ while someone who is a bit more sophisticated will say that he was technical and aggressive but held down the middle of the field.  However, for me, I’d like to be known as a guy that came to work every day whether it was practice or training, held myself and those around me to a high level, and most importantly got along with all the guys in the locker room. For me, the locker room was like a sanctuary and a brotherhood where we were all fighting for the same cause. I don’t know what people will say about my career, but I’m completely satisfied with I achieved, but I couldn’t be happier."

LAGI: “What have you thought of the immense reaction that you’ve gotten from across the soccer community? Tons of people have been coming forward to reflect on your career.

PM: “It’s pretty humbling because you realize how important it is to get to know people and share your passions and your perspective. I think that the game of soccer is always an excuse to be social and to get all these messages and phone calls is pretty powerful. It’s humbling and a real joy to be able to know so many people and be friends with so many people.”

LAGI: “What would you say was your greatest moment as a player?”

PM: “It had to be captaining the 2010 Colorado Rapids to MLS Cup. It was one of those teams where we needed to put together four good games. We were a team that very few people on the outside believed in, but the coaching staff and the organization knew that we had something special in that locker room. This retirement would have been so different for me if I had not won anything, yeah, I won a couple Gold Cups, but I wanted to win a championship which is the greatest thing in sports. Being a part of that team is something that I cherish most.”

LAGI: “What about your experience with the national team? How do you think that you’ll best remember that and, specifically, your role in the U.S. 2002 World Cup campaign?”

PM: My experience with the national team was great and I think that I was fortunate because there were circumstances where I was able to go from not playing a qualifier to starting [at the 2002 FIFA World Cup]. Looking back, it was such a blur and I don’t recall a lot of 2002. We had to come right back to our club and never had a moment to relish in those moments of awe. My national team experience was awesome though because I saw places that I never thought that I would see, played with great players and even played against some great players as well. It was really an eye-opening experience and that is something that I really cherish. People don’t understand the magnitude of those moments and when I think back, I realize that I’m a lot stronger than I thought. Putting it in words is almost taking away from the magnitude."

LAGI: “Does that mean that the U.S. victory over Mexico is part of the blur too?”

PM: I don’t really remember that and I've seen the video of Cuauhtémoc Blanco is standing over me looking like he’s going to punch me a hundred times, but it was just part of the blur. You’re flying to different cities, playing in different games then before you know it some guys are on Jay Leno, and you get home thinking ‘what just happened?’ That game was awesome because it was two CONCACAF rivals and we came away victorious and this is one of the experiences that I can’t wait to share with others."

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Much more in part two later on Wednesday. 

11 December 11:01 am

With the announcement of new LA Galaxy goalkeeper coach Matt Reis, LAGalaxy.com has compiled a photo gallery of Reis' time with the Galaxy. 

Check it out below. 

11 December 9:58 am

The LA Galaxy announced on Wednesday that former LA  and New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis has become the club's newest goalkeeper coach. 

Reis' appointment comes amid the goalkeeper's retirement from soccer ending a 16-year career that saw him make 288 appearances, 282 starts, with 110 wins, 1,114 saves and 75 shutouts. The 2013 MLS Humanitarian of the Year and Mission Viejo, Calif. native reached MLS Cup six times during his extensive career winning in 2002 while with the LA Galaxy. 

In addition to working with the first team, the 38-year-old will also work with Galaxy Academy goalkeepers. Reis replaces Ian Feuer who had been the club's goalkeeper coach since 2007. 

10 December 1:00 pm

Soccer may not be a game of statistics but when it comes to fitness and training, numbers could be very helpful. 

Huffington Post's Katie Linendoll speaks to Galaxy players and Strength and Conditioning coach Ben Yauss to discuss the adidas miCoach equipment and how the team uses it during training and matches. 

Check out the video below...

10 December 12:36 pm

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:

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What’s your favorite Pablo Mastroeni memory?

Share them below. 

10 December 10:10 am

Pablo Mastroeni is hanging up his boots

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.”

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What is your favorite memory of his career?

Share it below.