COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – It was different, it was unique, and it was even a little surreal at times, but Pablo Mastroeni made his return to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, not in the burgundy of the Colorado Rapids, but the blue-white-and-gold of the LA Galaxy.
The 36-year-old midfielder went 77 minutes in the 2-0 Galaxy defeat and exited to cheers as well as few standing ovations from the Rapids faithful. It wasn’t the midfielder’s finest performance as LA’s midfield struggled to take charge of the game and Mastroeni picked up a first half yellow card from referee Juan Guzman for dissent.
Mastroeni admitted after the LA defeat that the experience was a strange one, even for a player as experienced as he is.
“After 12 years at this club, it's kind of surreal. I had a hard time sleeping thinking about it. I actually woke up in the middle of the night thinking that I had a game with the Rapids,” said Mastroeni. “It was the most bizarre, surreal kind of experience, but I think when the whistle blows, everything kind of goes out the window. It's all that anticipation stuff that's emotional and unsettling.
“Once the whistle blew, we had a job to do, and I didn't even think about it for a second,” Mastroeni added. “It was good to get out there and get through this process that was inevitable, and move on.”
As he looks ahead to the second half of the season with his new team, Mastroeni has a recommendation on what LA must fix in order to improve.
“We made our own job more difficult [against Colorado]. I think overall the effort was there,” said Mastroeni. “We've just got to clean up a few things and keep working on concentrating on set pieces.”