Colorado interim coach Cooke makes debut vs. D.C. United
The Colorado Rapids have their first chance to prove that firing coach Pablo Mastroeni was the right move when they welcome D.C. United on Saturday. Although it seems most Rapids players wanted Mastroeni to stay.
Sitting second to last in the Western Conference, Colorado (6-12-4, 22 points) dismissed Mastroeni earlier this week in the midst of a five-match winless streak and installed Steve Cooke on an interim basis.
Combining that with a visit from D.C. (5-15-4, 19 points), the league's worst team, it would appear to be more than enough motivation to fuel a heightened effort from the home side.
But players have told the Denver Post that motivation was never an issue under Mastroeni, who in 2016 led Colorado to a second-place finish in the Western Conference and Supporters Shield standings.
"I don't think there's a single game you could point to where the guys gave up or didn't give it their all," defender Eric Miller told the Post. "That says a lot about him as a coach. I've been in situations on a team that's not doing very well and guys just check out. I don't think there's one guy in that locker room who checked out. That's a huge credit to Pablo."
The Rapids earned a draw in each of their last two matches, home against Vancouver and at Dallas, both teams that are in the top five in the West in points per match.
Meanwhile, D.C. coach Ben Olsen appears safe despite a winless streak that stretched to eight games after a 1-0 home loss to Real Salt Lake last weekend.
With the Black-and-Red making the playoffs in four of the five previous seasons under Olsen, it appears he will remain in charge during a rebuild that began with four acquisitions in the last week of the MLS secondary transfer window.
"As dreadful as the season has been in so many ways," Olsen told The Washington Post, "there's still this underlying excitement about the group and some of the new pieces and some of the pieces we have -- building something for this year and next year."
U.S. international Paul Arriola and Bolivian teenager Bruno Miranda made their D.C. debuts in last week's loss, and Russell Canouse could make his in Colorado.
Hungarian winger Zoltan Stieber still needs to receive his work visa before he can join a D.C. attack that has been shut out in 14 of its 24 matches.
Updated August 18, 2017