Part One: Q&A with Pablo Mastroeni reflecting on his 16-year MLS career and time with the U.S. National Team
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."
Much more in part two later on Wednesday.
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?
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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.
It's been Omar Gonzalez day on LAGalaxy.com with loads of Gonzalez content and up next,Gonzalez discussed the U.S. National Team, dual citizenship, saxophones, football, beer chugging, and more on ESPN's Highly Questionable.
Check it out below...