By Brian Jennings

As players exited the Colorado Rapids locker room one final time in 2014, many looked a bit worn out. Not happy after a dismal end to the season (but not completely down either), they talked about beginning 2015 in a positive way. For now, it’s time to recharge the mind and muscles.

“I’ll stay here at altitude, maybe go up to the mountains and take the dogs — the dogs go everywhere. I have to stay active,” said veteran midfielder Nick LaBrocca. “I can’t just sit around and be completely lazy.”

As for any out-of-town getaways, LaBrocca hadn’t nailed anything down except heading east to see family. “Maybe road trip to a beach. I’ll definitely make it back to New Jersey to hang out with my parents for the holidays.”

When it does come time to start getting the body back in sync, LaBrocca said the players recover, then begin a slow buildup to preseason early in 2015. “[The team] wants us taking 2–3 full weeks off doing nothing. It’s a program where it’s not just jumping straight back into it but start off slow and by the time preseason comes around I’ll be in great shape. We definitely won’t be 100 preseason by preseason, but you’re never really going to be at game-level until you get game movements.”

Meanwhile, defender Chris Klute will be doing a little bit of traveling to Texas and California before returning to Colorado and his off-season training regimen given to him by the team. Klute will take some time to visit family at home in the lone-star state over the holidays. He will also be on support-crew duty for his girlfriend who is running a marathon. After the “work” shift he’s extremely excited to visit Disneyland. “It will be my first time,” Klute said, “so I can’t wait.”

Head coach Pablo Mastroeni will be busy, as the Rapids staff goes on the lookout for not only new players but maybe some new ideas as well. A trip to England to visit Arsenal is reportedly on the agenda, but Mastroeni said, “That hasn’t been solidified quite yet but that’s the idea.”

Another stamp on Pablo’s passport, however, may come from Spain. “Maybe go to Atletico Madrid and hanging with Diego Simeone for a day or two and seeing that. If it all works out, it would be great.”

Mastroeni, who is following a similar path from legendary hard-nosed player to manager, would love to absorb any helpful hints from his boyhood idol. Mastroeni noted the similarities between the clubs. “Their philosophies as a club,” Mastroeni said, “as far as not having the billions of dollars to get whoever they want. They work hard as a unit. They believe in what they’re doing. There’s a lot of parallels. It would be great to pick such a great mind, a guy I looked up to as a player, and he’s doing a great job as a coach.”

Colorado players will report back to preseason camp in late January before a trip to Tucson for training and preseason matches against other MLS sides.