U.S. implications surround Casey-Buddle showdown

Stars look to make an impression with roster deadline looming

It’s a fair presumption that the Rapids’ crucial
early-season matchup against the Los Angeles Galaxy on Wednesday at Dick’s
Sporting Goods Park should catch the eyes of the U.S. national team coaching
staff, especially with the two big men leading the way up top.

No other matchup on Wednesday will offer up the chance to
see two strikers with legitimate chances of making the U.S. roster for next
month’s World Cup squad. But that’s the case for Colorado’s Conor Casey and the
Galaxy’s Edson Buddle, who meet less than week before the U.S. team’s 30-man
preliminary roster is due.

Suddenly, Commerce City will be the best place for Bob
Bradley and his crew to set their sights. The scintillating form of Buddle, who
has scored nine of his team’s ten goals so far this season, against the
physicality of the Rapids’ leading scorer on the season and second top scorer
in MLS last year behind veteran Jeff Cunningham.

The stats alone this season say there’s no contest. Nine goals
from Buddle with only three for Casey, and all those from the penalty spot.

But there’s an argument here worth making for Casey, who has
carved a niche totally different from Buddle during his career. Few players on
the national team are as physical or as effective at holding up the ball and
holding off defenders, and there’s no doubting his indispensability to the

“His football, his
choices, his quality with the ball – they are as good and effective as anyone
playing that role, “ Rapids coach Gary Smith said Tuesday. “He is a big strong
guy, athletic and makes good choices. He just needs a little more creativity
from elsewhere on the pitch.”

Casey said he wasn’t any more concerned than normal about
Wednesday’s game given the inevitable comparison with Buddle, even as U.S.
coach Bob Bradley prepares to submit his preliminary roster to FIFA by May 11.

“He’s scoring a lot of goals but that is not under my
control,” Casey said. “We will just be competing to try and get the three
points against the number one team in the conference.”