Back in January, Colorado Rapids coach Pablo Mastroeni showed up to the 2015 MLS SuperDraft looking like a man who had just walked out of a saloon, after hours of drinking moonshine, because he was about to rob a stagecoach. It was a surprising look from a man who, over the course of a long playing career, rarely carried more than a healthy stubble. Often, he was clean-shaven.
That grooming regiment carried over to the coaching side after he hung up his boots; that is, until he popped up this winter looking like a man who says, “See, you’re not gonna get me, coppers, see,” while shooting from behind the open door of a parked wagon.
But why the rapid (pun not intended) grooming transformation?
Back in January, Mastroeni explained the recent development to MLSSoccer.com:
“As we were going through a bit of a tough stretch … I wanted to get out on the field and really help the guys out. I almost felt like because it was so tough for the group, I wanted to go out and help. But my dad said, ‘Son you gotta change the way you think and a good way to do that might be changing the way you look. Why don’t you go wear a bowtie and start wearing a mustache so that when you look in a mirror you understand that you’re a coach and that you are no longer a player?’
“So I ran with the mustache,” Mastroeni continued. “And I’m waiting on a couple of bowties.”
He repeated the story in greater detail for the Rapids’ YouTube channel:
The “bit of a tough stretch” Mastroeni referred to is probably the entire 2014 MLS season — his first as a head coach — when his Rapids were generally miserable, missing out on postseason play on the back of an 8-18-8 campaign. It’s no surprise that wearing a disguise seemed like a reasonable reaction.
But those 2014 ills could very well be down to the natural trials and tribulations of a first-year coach. However, four games into the 2015, post-grooming transformation season, the Rapids have won approximately zero times, drawing three games and losing one. They’ve scored no goals and, although it’s early in the season, sit very comfortably at the bottom of the Western Conference.
Even with Mastroeni’s Gangs of New York mustache, things aren’t getting better. The Rapids’ sole loss came last night, at home, against the New England Revolution. Although one might think the Revolution’s two goals were the lowlight for the Rapids, it was actually probably this:
Colorado’s resident stagecoach robber was sent off in the 61st minute, maybe for making everyone uncomfortable. With the loss, the Rapids are winless in 18 games and have been unable to find the back of the net in 600 minutes (dating back to October 11, 2014).
During the Rapids’ period of mourning, it’s easy to conclude Mastroeni’s makeover just isn’t the answer. But fortunes can change very quickly during an MLS season. So perhaps we need to give the makeover more time to entertain us before calling the authorities. In the meantime, please avoid steering your stagecoach through remote areas of the Denver suburbs.