By Brian Jennings

The new MLS season is upon the Colorado Rapids, and with a serious overhaul in personnel, the team doesn’t expect a repeat of the 2014 season-ending swoon. The expectation is plain and simple: be competitive and win. 

“It’s not only the players, it’s the organization,” explained midfielder Marcelo Sarvas before the season opener in Philadelphia this Saturday. “Everyone has to have that mentality.”

Marcelo Sarvas brings a champion’s mentality to Colorado. Photo by John Babiak.

Marcelo Sarvas brings a champion’s mentality to Colorado. Photo by John Babiak.

“I see people here with a lot of energy. Every training is 100 percent,” Sarvas told the Current of Colorado. “When you play in clubs with success, their minds are a winning mind. You go to the field and your mindset is to win games whether it’s away or at home. The most important thing here is to put this mentality and make everyone believe that you can win and be champions.” 

Sarvas knows a bit about success in MLS, coming off a championship year with the Los Angeles Galaxy before moving to Colorado. 

It isn’t expected to be easy, especially with so many new faces and backgrounds. But head coach Pablo Mastroeni is pleasantly surprised with how this year’s squad has come together. “Bringing in nine new players adds a component,” Mastroeni said, “and the majority of these players are experienced, so their ability to adapt is much quicker. What I’ve seen is the cohesion of the group in six weeks… understanding roles, understanding abilities, and the dynamic play on both sides of the ball has been really transparent in preseason.”

Colorado travels to Philadelphia to start the season with many of those new players in prominent roles from the outset. With Captain Drew Moor out of the back line until he fully heals, don’t be surprised to see guys like Michael Harrington, Bobby Burling, and even rookie Axel Sjöberg take leadership roles in defense.

“Obviously we need talent, which we have, but also need leaders,” explained Harrington. 

Harrington brings experience to Colorado. Photo by John Babiak.


“We have a group of players that want to take ownership of the team. It can’t always be the coaches. It has to be the guys on the field that are making plays and leading by example. I think we have that.” 

“We brought players here that just raised the level of the team. This happens all the time,” noted Sarvas. “In other leagues, you get used to playing at the level you are in. When you bring players with good quality, the other players are going to follow this. Everyone that came here kept the same level they played with at other clubs and showed the guys here that we can do better than last year.”

Dynamic midfielders such as Sarvas, Lucas Pittinari, and Juan Ramirez will be counted on to raise the quality and provide an attacking element out of midfield to link up with holdovers Dillon Powers, Dillon Serna, and Nick LaBrocca. With depth in critical positions on the field, Rapids coaches can confidently move pieces around without worrying about a drop in play. 

“With the group we have, you can’t get complacent because then your spot is gone. It forces guys to come out and perform every day and brings that extra bit of focus,” said Harrington. “We’re competitive, and we’re still getting used to each other, our identity, and our style of play. The way we’ve competed against some of the better teams in the leagues [in preseason], we’re right there.”