After 11-plus seasons with the Colorado Rapids, Pablo Mastroeni was shipped to the Los Angeles Galaxy last month.
While Mastroeni is excited about facing his former club for the first time since the trade, he is more focused on leading Los Angeles to victory.
Seeking a fifth win in seven matches, the visiting Galaxy try to extend their unbeaten streak over the Rapids to seven Saturday night.
Mastroeni captained Colorado to its only MLS Cup championship in 2010 and set franchise records for games (225) and minutes played (18,669). However, the midfielder was dealt to Los Angeles on June 17 for a 2014 second round MLS SuperDraft pick and an international roster spot through the 2014 season.
"Who knows how I'll be received, but there were a lot of fun memories in Dick's Sporting Goods Park," Mastroeni told the Galaxy's official website. "I'm not really focused on any of that. ... I just think that it is great to go back to a place that I've been for 12 years and get a result at a crucial point in the season.
"It's a special game, but looking at it from my perspective, it's a big game because what it means to this club."
Mastroeni made his fifth appearance and first start for Los Angeles last Saturday in a 2-1 victory over Vancouver. He completed 38 of his 45 passes, two of which led to scoring opportunities.
"Looks like the player we know," coach Bruce Arena said. "It's taken him a little time to get in form, and he still needs a little more time, but he's an experienced player. ... Hopefully we can continue to move him forward."
Landon Donovan, still with the U.S. national team at the CONCACAF Gold Cup, missed his fourth straight match and Robbie Keane was held out with a left hip flexor strain suffered the previous weekend. Donovan was named to his MLS-record 13th consecutive All-Star game Friday as a replacement for Keane, who is uncertain to be available this weekend.
Despite missing their best players, the Galaxy (10-8-3) have climbed into third place in the Western Conference thanks a 4-2-0 stretch. Los Angeles, though, is 1-5-0 in its last six road games.
"(The standings are) so tight and we know that. We're not thinking too far down the line at this point," said Todd Dunivant, who assisted on Gyasi Zardes' go-ahead goal in the 57th minute last Saturday. "Let's not get too high when we win and not too low when we lose."
Los Angeles now turns its attention to the Rapids, whom it has outscored 10-3 during a 5-0-1 stretch in the series. The Galaxy won 1-0 on March 23 in this season's only matchup.
Colorado (8-7-7) has followed an 0-4-1 stretch by going 3-0-2 in its last five. Defender Drew Moor scored his second goal as the Rapids played to a 1-all draw at Seattle last Saturday.
"It's an important point, but I think a positive sign is nobody is overly excited in the locker room," Moor said.
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- Los Angeles Galaxy
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- Pablo Mastroeni