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
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
What’s your favorite Pablo Mastroeni memory?
Share them below.