Big shock: Pablo Mastroeni given Colorado Rapids’ permanent head coaching position

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Pablo Mastroeni had been functioning as Colorado’s head coach throughout the preseason, but in the wake of Óscar Pareja’s departure to FC Dallas, the team had been slow to give the former Rapids midfielder the permanent job. On Saturday, one week before the team opens their season in New York, the team announced the 65-time United States international could ditch the interim tag, handing the 16-year Major League Soccer veteran the permanent job.

“We are thrilled to name Pablo Mastroeni our head coach, and everyone at the club is excited for his tenure to begin,” said Rapids President Tim Hinchey. “We underwent a deliberate search, and Pablo’s experience, approach, and the work he did throughout preseason proved to us that he is the right man for this role.”

You think? Mastroeni transitioning into a coaching role will surprise few who covered the Rapids legend, something which made it even more inexplicable why a man who spent 11 years with the club had to wait so long to get the job. Had Pareja just moved to Dallas last week, the timing of today’s announcement would be understandable. But last year’s boss made his move at the beginning of January (and took his first steps to Dallas a month before that). With Mastroeni in charge throughout the preseason, Colorado should have made this move long ago.

In comments released by the team, Mastroeni didn’t seem too upset about the delay:

“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.” said Mastroeni. “I would like to thank the Kroenke family, Tim Hinchey and 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.”

As we discussed in our Rapids preview, the MLS season is a long one, with little wobbles in February and March rendered irrelevant by October. Where the biggest danger Colorado could have encountered was a midseason change of coach, the team took a step in the right direction on Saturday. All doubts surrounding Mastroeni are gone.

“For a long time, Pablo Mastroeni has been an icon and a leader at this club, and he has the respect of everyone here, from the players through to the staff,” said Rapids Technical Director Paul Bravo. “He is committed to this club and our project, and I look forward to working closely with him in his new position.”

Mastroeni was always the right man for this job, and it seems like Colorado knew it. It’s hard to be critical of an organization’s due diligence, but Mastroeni should have been the permanent coach before March 8.

Independiente and Flamengo meet for South American trophy

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SAO PAULO (AP) Independiente, relegated for the first time in its history in 2013, can complete a remarkable turnaround by winning the Copa Sudamericana at the Maracana Stadium on Wednesday.

[ MORE: LA FC selects Urena, four others in MLS Expansion Draft ]

The Argentine team will go into the second leg of the final holding a 2-1 lead over Brazilian club Flamengo from the first leg.

Independiente, which has won multiple titles in South American tournaments, will be counting on 18-year-old midfielder Ezequiel Barco, one of the best players in this year’s competition.

Flamengo is also seeking to restore some pride in Rio de Janeiro. The big-spending Brazilian club, playing in its first Copa Sudamericana final, finished its domestic championship in a disappointing sixth place.

The Rio team will be without Peru striker Paolo Guerrero, who is serving a one-year doping ban.

Instead, veteran midfielder Diego will be the key player as Flamengo looks to claim its first regional title since winning the now-defunct Copa Mercosur in 1999.

After Independiente won the first leg, the club posted on its social media channels a picture of its players celebrating at the Maracana in 1995 when the two teams played for the Supercopa.

If the Argentines lose 1-0 on Wednesday, there will be a penalty shootout to decide the winner.

Last year, Brazilian club Chapecoense was awarded the title before the final after 19 players, plus club directors and several members of staff, died in an air crash.

The Copa Sudamericana is the continent’s second most prestigious tournament after the Copa Libertadores.

Bundesliga wrap: Dortmund wins in Stoger’s managerial debut

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For the first time since late September, Borussia Dortmund has won a league match, while Leipzig’s slip up opens the door for Bayern Munich to extend its lead in Germany’s top flight.

[ MORE: Chelsea tops Huddersfield, level on points with Man United ]

Here’s a brief look at all of Tuesday’s Bundesliga action.

Mainz 0-2 Borussia Dortmund

10 points separates Dortmund from league leaders Bayern Munich, who also have a match in hand, but for the moment, the bleeding his stopped. BVB picked up a crucial win on Tuesday to end its domestic woes upon manager Peter Stoger’s debut. The side’s drought stretched over an eight-match winless period. Second-half goals from Sokratis and Shinji Kagawa moved Dortmund into the top four, while Mainz remains 15th in the league table.

 

Wolfsburg 1-1 Red Bull Leipzig

Meanwhile, RB Leipzig’s form continues to slide downward after the second-place side dropped points in its fourth straight match across all competitions. The road side’s fortunes were dampened early on when Paul Verhaegh converted from the penalty spot, however, Marcel Halstenberg did manage to pull a goal back for Leipzig in the 52nd minute. Leipzig’s misfortunes carried on in stoppage time though when Dayot Upamecano was sent off after picking up his second yellow card of the day.


The rest of Tuesday’s scores

Hamburg 1-2 Frankfurt
Freiburg 1-0 Borussia Monchengladbach

Inter beats 3rd-division Pordenone 5-4 on penalties in Cup

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MILAN (AP) Inter Milan scraped into the Italian Cup quarterfinals after the Serie A leader was taken to penalties by third-division Pordenone on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Chelsea tops Huddersfield, moves level on points with Man United ]

Pordenone goalkeeper Simone Perilli pulled off several saves in regulation time to keep the game scoreless, and he almost proved to be the hero during the shootout, stopping two penalties.

But Inter prevailed 5-4, with Yuto Nagatomo tucking away the final spot kick.

Both sides hit the woodwork during the 120 minutes.

Inter coach Luciano Spalletti rang the changes, and only Milan Skriniar and Matias Vecino remained in the starting 11 from Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Juventus.

[ MORE: Burnley moves into top four after win over Stoke ]

However, he was forced by desperation to bring on Marcelo Brozovic at halftime as well as star forwards Ivan Perisic and Mauro Icardi.

Report: Cosmos coach Savarese to be named new Timbers manager

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In a time where NASL’s status moving forward is hanging in the balance, one of the league’s top managers is set to make the jump to Major League Soccer.

[ MORE: LA FC close to acquiring Red Bulls captain Sacha Kljestan ]

According to ESPN soccer analyst Taylor Twellman, New York Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese is set to be named the next Portland Timbers manager.

Savarese will take over for the recently departed Caleb Porter, who stepped down from his head coaching role with the Timbers in November.

The former professional player spent five seasons in MLS during his career, including stints with the New York/New Jersey MetroStars (now the Red Bulls), as well as the New England Revolution and the San Jose Earthquakes.

The 46-year-old has managed the Cosmos from 2013 to present, and guided the NASL side to three Soccer Bowl titles in that span.