Pablo Mastroeni, club captain of the Colorado Rapids, will not be playing in the home season opener next Saturday because he will have the small matter of marshalling the midfield for the US national team in deepest El Salvador. Mastroeni has been called up by national team coach, Bob Bradley, for the vital World Cup qualifying games against El Salvador and then, four days later, at home in Nashville against Trinidad and Tobago. I wouldn't mind betting that Pablo will be released for the Trinidad game. There seems to be a pattern emerging of picking him primarily for the really difficult games away from home where his experience and toughness are perhaps most needed. Granted, he was not able to play in the Mexico game last month because of suspension but there does seem to be this trend emerging. It begs the question as to whether Mastroeni will simply be a convenience in the US set-up while they aim to qualify for the World Cup and would then promptly be dropped for the tournament itself. Of course, if he plays out of his skin during the qualifying games, it could be that Bradley would have no option but to take him to South Africa. But there is this nagging feeling and it is not something that is lost on Mastroeni himself who has to weigh his loyalty to both club and country, two entities he both desperately wants to play for. "It is kind of difficult with the Rapids," he told me this morning. "Clearly, it is everyone's dream to represent their country. We'll just have to see where I am in the big picture." If I was a US fan, which I kind of am a very distant second to England, I know who I would like in my team as Didier Drogba came hurtling towards me with his Ivory Coast teammates. The US will need someone of Pablo's experience in midfield for what will be a very difficult tournament next year in unfamiliar surroundings.
In other news, the Rapids confirmed today that they have signed Gregory Richardson and Scott Palguta, completing the 24-man roster for now. Richardson could well be on the bench tomorrow as the Rapids face Chivas in the season opener.