Commerce City, Colo. (July 19, 2011) - Before the team hit the training field on Wednesday, they were told the disappointing news that Conor Casey's MRI revealed a torn left Achilles tendon, which will end the 2011 season for the team's leading scorer. With home games Wednesday versus the New York Red Bulls (7 pm MT) and Saturday against the New England Revolution (7:30 pm MT), the players did not have time to let the news linger, taking part in an hour-long a video session before returning to the field for final preparations.
After training we caught up with coach Gary Smith, captain Pablo Mastroeni, Casey's forward partner Omar Cummings, and Mac Kandji, who is nearly back after rehabbing a torn ACL for the last eight months, to get their thoughts on Casey's injury.
"It's extremely disappointing news. Conor not only has been in good form, but he's been a huge part of what we've achieved, our championship last year. He's had to suffer a couple of injuries already this year that he's come back from and got into the kind of goal-scoring form that we've all seen and maybe even expect from him. To fall foul of such an injury at this point is extremely bad news for, not just the team, but him and I would think anybody that's associated with the club.
On who will fill Casey's shoes:
"His goal scoring attributes and return per game for this team has been second to none. That sort of form and those sort of boots to fill are very, very tough. But that's why we have a squad. We have some good young forwards; we have guys that are more experienced that are going to have to pick up the baton a little bit more. And we also have Mac Kandji, who's been on a long road to recovery himself, close to being back and among the 18-man group and will add some competition and some depth to what will now be a front line that's going to miss a big, big player."
"It's obviously unfortunate but it's one of the inherent parts of sport, you're going to lose players. To lose him at this time is a big thing for our team but instead of it being a negative, hopefully it's a positive in something that we can rally around and realize how lucky we are to be able to go out there and play every day, and maybe inject the team with a little more enthusiasm and somehow get two good results in these next two consecutive games. As far as losing him, we've lost our best goal-scorer, we've lost a leader in the locker room, and a great guy to have around. Let's just hope that we can spin this into a way to get some results in the next couple games."
"As a team, I think we all know that he would want us to push on and we'll try to do it the best we can. But as an individual, as a teammate, as a friend you feel it for the guy. And you know it will be a big blow for us, as a team. He's a big part of our team, he's been the one, since coming back, that has been scoring a lot of the goals so far. He was on a great run, so to see that momentum stop, for us as team and for him personally, it's a big blow."
"It's been a crazy year so far. Mac has still to be on the field, Caleb's been injured, I've been injured, Quincy, Conor. The only forward that hasn't been injured I think is Andre. So for the forward line it's been a crazy year."
"He's been in this situation before because he tore both ACLs as well, but he's a very good pro so I'm sure he's going to deal with it well. But it's always tough. If you get injured you're always bummed so you have to find a way to get yourself back up. I'm pretty sure he has a lot of years left in his career, and this is just another speed bump.
The hardest part of rehabbing:
"It was definitely the mental part, because the physical part - I knew that I could come back if I put the work in. Of course I knew in my mind that I wanted to play in the highest level, that I was no where close to finished playing soccer. But the mental part was definitely the case. The physical part is about motivation, your team's motivation, the trainer, your family, friends, everybody motivating you every day."