CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy bolstered their midfield on Monday by acquiring Pablo Mastroeni in a trade from the Colorado Rapids, but now that the club has obtained the veteran, just what impact will he play.
The 36-year-old has already spoken at length with LA head coach Bruce Arena about the possibilities of playing in central midfield, central defense and, possibly, right back. This versatility could be immense as LA gets into the taxing summer months.
“I’ve played quite a few positions under Bruce in years past and we’ve had a conversation about that,” said Mastroeni after his first full training session with the team on Monday. “For me, it’s just coming in here and being who I am. Not trying to overdo it and be someone that I’m not and do whatever it takes to contribute to this team.”
Mastroeni will certainly have an impact in the locker room as he looks to impart the wisdom gained in his 16-year career on the Galaxy. One player who is certainly all for the deal is Galaxy forward Landon Donovan, but how he discovered the deal occurred was in his words—“bizarre.”
“I was in the bathroom [in the Galaxy locker room] and I was brushing my teeth or something and I thought I was dreaming because I really hadn’t heard anything. I really thought that I was in a dream and then I found out,” said Donovan, who saw Mastroeni over his shoulder. “I think that we’re all excited. Pablo is a guy who has been misused over the past few years or not used enough and hopefully someone that can help us in a lot of ways.”
His strange discovery of the trade aside, Donovan believes that Mastroeni’s leadership on and off the field could be extremely valuable for LA.
“There’s no secret that we’ve lacked a little bit of bite and at times some leadership particularly in the defensive part of the field at the end of games,” said Donovan. “He certainly brings that and obviously brings a ton of experience and he’s a good soccer player. Combine all that and I think that he’s going to help us a lot.”
Although the Galaxy is seeking another leadership presence in the locker room, Mastroeni doesn’t feel any impetus to become a leader. After a 16 year career in MLS, it simply comes naturally for the veteran.
“I’m naturally just a loud guy on the field that doesn’t require any type of motivation. I’ve been screaming, directing, and that’s just a part of who I am. To me, it’s not leadership, that’s just a part of my game,” said Mastroeni. “Hopefully that turns into organization, jelling with the team and contributing in a way that brings us together through communication. That’s nothing that I have to force. I just have to be myself and work hard and things will work out as they should.”