Conor Casey walked off the field at YSC Sports with a determined look on his face.
Nothing new there.
Casey treats every training session the same way he treats every game: with determination, passion and an all-around competitive fire.
After missing the playoffs last season, Casey returned to the Philadelphia Union even more determined than ever.
There’s so much to prove in 2014.
“For sure,” Casey said. “There were a lot of positive things last year, but we came up short. It’s frustrating. You want to be there (in the playoffs). You don’t want to be there sitting on the couch while everybody else is playing. I felt like we were in a good position last year and a couple plays we didn’t make decided our season. It was a learning experience.
“This is a new start and we’re excited to be back. The work starts now. The guys here are working very hard and the club made a number of changes. I’m personally excited. I want to be in the postseason. It’s a long season and we start working on it now.”
Casey was a major addition for the Union after being acquired in Stage Two of the Major League Soccer Re-Entry Draft. He scored 10 goals, added five assists and provided leadership on and off the pitch.
How can you follow Casey’s workmanlike example?
“I feel good,” Casey said. “It was good having all last year to play, a good break and now coming into preseason, I think everybody is excited to be here, excited to fight for positions and fit. I thought it was great how welcoming the club was last year when I got here. They made it easy for me to come in and do what I do. We have a close locker room and the guys all pull for each other. I just come out every day and work hard like I always have.”
But missing out on the postseason was tough for Casey, a former MLS Cup Most Valuable Player with the Colorado Rapids in 2010. Casey also set a Rapids single-season scoring record with 16 goals in ’09 and was named to the ’09 MLS Best XI team.
“Everyone wants to be in the playoffs and that’s why you play, to get in and have a chance,” said Casey, the Rapids’ all-time leading scorer with 50 goals. “These days, the season is so long that you have to pace yourself. You can’t look too far ahead, but at the same time, you need to have those long-term goals to shoot for. Playing for the postseason is important and it’s much better than sitting at home, that’s for sure.”
Casey looks healthy, and more importantly, said he feels 100 percent healthy. He suffered a torn Achilles tendon during the 2011 season and that type of injury can take up to two full years to completely heal.
“As I said, I feel great,” said the 32-year-old Casey. “I’m very happy to be back and go to work. We have a very good mix of veterans and young players competing and it’s going to be very exciting.”
Are you excited to see Conor Casey return to the Union? Leave a comment below.
Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at firstname.lastname@example.org