On one level, Conor Casey is ecstatic.
But it will only truly matter for him if the Philadelphia Union can break through into the MLS Cup playoff picture.
Casey came to the Union in Stage Two of the MLS Re-Entry Draft last December and has responded with 10 goals and five assists in 30 games. Those 10 goals pushed his career total to 60.
But if the Union are unable to secure a second playoff berth in four seasons, those personal numbers won't be nearly as satisfying.
“Of course, every player wants to be competing in the playoffs because that’s what we play for,” Casey said. “You want to get in the playoffs and have a shot at a championship. That’s why you compete so hard all season, for a chance.”
Philadelphia still has a chance at the playoffs and it starts Saturday with a must-win situation at PPL Park against Sporting Kansas City. If they can get those three points and have a couple of other scenarios occur on Sunday, then Casey will keep playing along with the Union in the playoffs.
Casey is still the Colorado Rapids’ all-time leading scorer with 50 goals. He was the 2010 MLS Cup Most Valuable Player and also set a franchise single-season scoring record with 16 goals in ’09.
Casey suffered a torn Achilles tendon during the 2011 season and two-plus years later, he looks as good as ever.
“I’ve felt great all season,” Casey said. “I had a couple of bumps and bruises early on, but that’s just from playing a lot of seasons. I have felt great and the training staff here has done a great job of keeping me ready to play. I have to give them a lot of credit. I also have to credit my teammates, who have welcomed me with open arms. This is a great group of guys, and I think we have improved steadily the whole season.
“There is a very bright future here with the guys in this locker room.”
Casey meshed quite nicely with Jack McInerney on the front line and the formidable duo each had plenty of moments.
“Jack is a great player with so much skill,” Casey said. “I felt like we worked really well together and I’m looking forward to the future.”
Philadelphia is hoping its future continues now with a run in the postseason.
“There’s nothing like the playoffs,” Casey said. “It’s what you play for. The intensity is higher. The competition is even greater. I love it for all those reasons.”
And his teammates thoroughly enjoy playing alongside Casey.
“Conor is a great, great teammate,” McInerney said. “He leads by example and you can’t help but play up to his intensity level. I’ve learned so much from him this season.”
Casey has learned from his teammates as well.
“You never stop learning in this sport,” he said. “You keep pushing, working and learning every time you step out on that field.”
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Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at email@example.com