By Brian Jennings

The 2015 MLS season opener is quickly approaching for the Colorado Rapids, and head coach Pablo Mastroeni is slowly building to what he hopes will be a much more successful campaign than his rookie year at the helm.

“This year we’re just going by the schedule, hitting all the major points and breaking the details down when we’re on the field,” Mastroeni said.

“In order for something to be sustained you’ve got to do it over and over again. If you go out one day and you just have more spirit than the other team, it’s hard to replicate spirit and energy,” explained Mastroeni. “It’s easier to replicate good positions, good understanding, good movements, and counter-movements, and then you add energy and spirit.”

By the time Colorado played the team’s first preseason game against an MLS group, the Earthquakes already had four or five matches to shed winter rust. But Mastroeni wanted to use the first part of preseason to stabilize a foundation instead.

“That’s kind of the reason I didn’t want to play too many games in the early part of pre-season because you focus on winning,” Mastroeni said. “We’re laying down the foundation we visited to make sure that information is being absorbed and we’re working on it.”

Mastroeni has quietly rebuilt much of the roster from 2014 by adding savvy veterans in defense and midfield and confident rookies who are learning how to work together in his structured environment. “Bringing in such a large group of players there’s an acclimation stage,” he admitted.

“The first week away from home gave us an opportunity to come together as a group off the field. Getting to know the person beyond the player I think is really important. You saw that translate on the field as well in the different relationships of players that are playing in partnerships, whether it’s the central midfielders or wide players, you saw that coming together.”

Colorado has used several unsigned and guest players alongside veterans sprinkled in for the first pre-season matches in Las Vegas and Arizona.

“Moving forward,” Mastroeni said, “we’ll be shaping the roster. Obviously the games will bring up other questions we’ll need to touch on, but what we’re doing has already been planned. Now it’s just about the individual and attention to the different partnerships.”

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