It was painful to suggest to Pablo Mastroeni that he should have hung up his boots last year after missing most of the season with concussion symptoms.
I’ve been a Pablo fan since he came into the league playing for the long-lost Miami Fusion. I was tickled when the Rapids got him and it was a pleasure watching him become the face of the franchise.
He looked like he was running out of gas by 2009, but he reinvented himself through a change in diet and a focus on yoga. The result was a rejuvenated captain who lifted the 2010 MLS Cup. It was the perfect capstone for years of playing on mediocre sides. He got his star for the jersey and gave the side a desperately needed piece of hardware.
None of that made it easier to watch as Pablo missed almost all of the 2012 season as he was sidelined with headaches and the other woes associated with concussions. The threat of future trauma led to my open letter to the former captain.
I felt at the time that it was the right decision, and I still feel that way.
Trading Mastroeni to Los Angeles, as the Rapids did the other day, was not the ending that anyone would have picked. It was a reminder that players and coaches are just cogs in organizations, and they are replaceable. Clearly, coach Oscar Pareja believed that the Mastroeni cog was done, reducing him to a bit player this season. Shipping him to the Galaxy for a future draft choice was a business decision.
Now, Mastroeni and coach Bruce Arena will attempt to prove the Rapids fools for jettisoning the face of the franchise. Only time will tell if that can be done, or if the damage that kept him off the field in 2012 will return.
The tough part for any fan of the Rapids or of Mastroeni is to watch him finish in something other than Colorado’s burgundy kit.
It is an “Oh, no!” ending, just not the one anyone would have predicted.