Selecting Casey a "no-brainer" for Union

Even at 31, Hackworth believes Casey can return to MVP form

This was a no-brainer.

When the Philadelphia Union acquired Conor Casey in Stage Two of the Major League Soccer Re-Entry Draft, it was clearly an improvement for the club on so many levels.

It allowed the Union to add a top-notch goal scorer – Casey is the Colorado Rapids’ all-time leading scorer with 50 goals in six seasons – to combine with the likes of Sebastien Le Toux, Jack McInerney, Antoine Hoppenot and Chandler Hoffman.

The 31-year-old Casey did suffer a torn Achilles tendon during the 2011 season. But he came back last season to score two goals and add three assists for the Rapids.

If Casey is healthy, he’s a major asset for any club. He’s a legitimate scorer. He’s a leader. He’s tough. And he is a former MLS Cup MVP when the Rapids won the championship in 2010.

“He definitely fits what we needed,” Union manager John Hackworth told philadelphiaunion.com. “We had a way to get him and we were able to do it and bring him here. It’s kind of a crazy process. We’ve always liked him as a player and a person. He fits our club in every way. The big thing for Conor is that he gets a fresh start.

“He fits the style we want to play. He’s 6-1, but he plays bigger than that. I think it’s going to be a great new start for Conor and for us.”

Casey has 20 caps with the U.S. Men’s National Team and his last appearance was on Jan. 23, 2010, in a 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Honduras.

Couple that experience with his MLS experience and you have the type of veteran the Union are searching for to help nurture this young club.

In addition, Casey brings a bit of swagger that can be contagious in a good way.

“No question Conor has a toughness, but more than that, he’s just a really, really good soccer player,” Hackworth said. “He has a physicality that’s important at this level. He always plays much bigger than he is. I think he’s one of the stronger players in the league and he’s going to help us.

“He knows how to score. He has the ability to finish, which is so important in this league. All that said, I think he’s the perfect fit for us and gives us a lot of depth.”

Scoring goals was a problem last season as evidenced by the Union’s 37 goals in 34 games – slightly more than one per match.

Casey will certainly help if he can stay healthy and regain his MVP form.

“We weren’t looking for a role player,” Hackworth said. “Adding Conor creates a lot of competition at the forward position, just like we have at all our positions. I think it’s a win-win situation to be able to bring in a player with Conor’s ability and talent to score goals.”

Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at andy.jasner@yahoo.com