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Colorado finds its coach for the future in Pablo Mastroeni

Colorado faced an unexpected vacancy when Oscar Pareja left his Rapids project after just two seasons. By appointing Pablo Mastroeni, the Rapids expect they have found someone willing to stick around for the long haul.

Colorado turned to former midfielder Pablo Mastroeni to fill its coaching vacancy.

Kelley L Cox / USA TODAY Sports

Colorado weighed its coaching options carefully after Oscar Pareja left for FC Dallas in January. The club trusted Pablo Mastroeni to guide the squad until it could reach a final decision.

At the end of the two-month process, the Rapids chose club legend Mastroeni as the man to lead the club for the foreseeable future. Colorado confirmed Mastroeni's appointment on Saturday afternoon during a kickoff event for club supporters.

“It is a great honor to take this new position at the Rapids, a club which means a great deal to me and my family,” Mastroeni said in a statement released by the team. “I would like to thank the Kroenke family, [Rapids president] Tim Hinchey and [Rapids technical director] Paul Bravo for this great opportunity. I have seen this team’s ability and potential up close over the last two months, and I can’t wait for the season to get started.”

Mastroeni, 37, continues the trend of experienced MLS players eventually taking charge of their former clubs. The former U.S. international left Colorado during last season to finish out his career with LA Galaxy, but he returned to Commerce City after the season ended with a view toward sticking with the club for an extended period.

Pareja's decision to leave the Rapids after just two seasons created an opportunity to install a coach willing to continue the club's development over the long haul. Colorado took its time with its search in a bid to make sure it located the right person to implement its philosophy and nurture its group of young and promising players.

By appointing Mastroeni, the Rapids handed the reins to a committed figure with comprehensive knowledge of the club, its players and its principles. Any appointment - especially when the choice boasts so little coaching experience - carries some risk. In this instance, Colorado opted to mitigate those concerns by turning to someone familiar with the situation and then surrounding him with the structure necessary to fulfill the tasks ahead.

It may take some time for Mastroeni to adjust to his duties, but the success of several former players - Red Bulls coach Mike Petke won the Supporters' Shield in his first season, after all - placed into a similar position offers considerable hope for the future.

As Mastroeni pursues those objectives, he will do so with a keen appreciation for the opportunity handed to him and a long-term vision for his beloved club. In the wake of Pareja's departure in the midst of his grand project, those qualities offer the sort of reassurances required as the Rapids seek to continue their growth in 2014.