When the Philadelphia Union acquired Conor Casey in Stage Two of the Major League Soccer Re-Entry Draft last December, it was deemed a win-win situation.
Fast forward to June 23, and Casey is helping the Union win in a major way.
Casey recorded a huge brace in the Union’s 3-0 victory over the New York Red Bulls before an overflow crowd of 19,013 Sunday at PPL Park. The sellout crowd and a national television audience watched Casey do what he does best – score goals.
Make that five now for Casey to go along with two assists.
“It’s been a great year for me personally in terms of crowd atmosphere here,” Casey said in the jubilant Union locker room. “And that’s kind of given me a second life, so to speak.”
Casey remains the Colorado Rapids’ all-time leading scorer with 50 goals in six seasons. Even after suffering a torn Achilles tendon during the 2011 season, he responded with two goals and three assists for the Rapids last season.
The 31-year-old Casey was determined to prove his mettle. He still is.
“Sure, I don’t think it’s a process that ends,” Casey said. “You’re always trying to improve. You’re never feeling like you’re 100 percent because you’re trying to get better as a group and individually. But, myself? Yeah, I feel good.”
From the day that Casey joined the Union, manager John Hackworth envisioned him in the lineup.
It was simply a matter of getting fit and becoming acclimated with his new teammates.
“I always thought Conor was going to be doing this someday,” Hackworth said. “He’s been doing it all year long. Today was obviously a huge day for him. Quality in every way. He does so many little things for our team that makes us better. Very happy for Conor.”
Veteran Brian Carroll, the Union’s captain and steady midfielder, understands what it’s like to switch clubs after a lengthy stay. It’s not an easy task.
“It can be (tough), but he’s such a good person and a good teammate that he transitioned easy to this team,” Carroll said. “He knew a couple guys which made it a little bit easier and he’s experienced. Take his game and try to do what he can do. He’s fit in well this year and hopefully, he’ll keep producing like he has. Conor has the experience and he has scored a lot of goals in this league.”
The way Casey is performing, he will continue to score a lot of goals in this league.
In the end, Casey is focused solely on winning. To do that in this soccer-crazed area has been a phenomenal experience.
“I was received very warmly here in terms of everything,” Casey said. “The atmosphere was night and day from where I came from. It’s really just a good boost and a great move for me in my career.”
Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at email@example.com