GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Pablo Mastroeni reunion tour made its latest stop on Thursday when the 36-year-old midfielder returned to his childhood home of Arizona.
In front of more than 50 friends and family, Mastroeni went 45 minutes in the Galaxy’s 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid in Guinness International Championship Cup play. For Mastroeni, who left Arizona as a teenager of 17 to pursue his soccer career, the chance to play in his home state was an emotional experience.
“Playing in front of friends and family is always awesome,” said Mastroeni. “I had high school buddies; I had elementary school buddies, the extended family, and in-laws. The list goes on and on, but it was awesome…It was good to be out there and play probably my last game in front of the Phoenix crowd.”
However, playing in front of family and friends wasn’t the only exciting part as the midfielder enjoyed the chance to test himself against the Spanish giants.
“I don’t know what their payroll looks like, but I’m sure it’s a little bit more expensive than ours. Just world class players that you watch day in and day out, so to play against these guys doesn’t get old,” said Mastroeni. “Each and every opportunity that you get is an opportunity to measure yourself and [ask yourself] if I would have done alright overseas if I had gone over at a younger age.
“I think that we did a really good job of competing and making these guys play outside their comfort zone,” Mastroeni added. “I think their class showed when they were able to break and score goals, but it was a great game to be a part of, and hopefully, something that we can build on.”
Although Mastroeni has enjoyed getting a chance to spend time with scores of family and friends over the past two weeks, he’s ready for his life to return to normal.
“It’s been an emotional rollercoaster, I’m ready to get off this thing and get some type of normalcy in my life, but that comes with the territory because professional sports are crazy,” said Mastroeni. “It always finds a way to make stories out of this, for me, I’m glad that in a week or two, we’ll get back to a somewhat normal schedule and get back into league.”
However, before that happens, the Mastroeni reunion tour will make one final stop next week in Miami, the place where Mastroeni began his MLS career 16-years-ago with the now defunct Miami Fusion.