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U.S. implications surround Casey-Buddle showdown

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 Rapids.

“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.”